© 2005 Static and Feedback
All rights reserved
|Hunter S. Thompson
By JIM CAROLUS
STATIC and FEEDBACK staff writer
"There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. A high-
powered mutant of some kind never even considered
for mass production. Too weird to live, too rare to die.”
– Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter Thompson was not an artist in the traditional
sense. He did not spend his life consciously
“creating” art that was intended to bring about massive
societal changes in the way that counterculture figures
like Ken Kesey and Timothy Leary (whom Thompson
despised) did. Rather, Thompson himself WAS the art
he created. Every word the man spoke was intended
to be written down and read repeatedly aloud
(preferably in that great dialect he used). His home
should have been equipped with speakers and
recorders in every room. He rightly understood that a
work of art is meaningless compared to a PERSON
whose very EXISTENCE is inherently interesting,
frustrating, hilarious, disturbing, and on and on…
His life revolved around two brilliant premises:
1. Make YOURSELF the attraction. Don’t write a book to “say something”. Instead, say things (and, really,
everything the guy said was literary gold) until you’ve got enough nuggets of wisdom for the “book” to
2. Show America just how fun insanity (and the freedom that allows its cultivation) can be!!
In the coming weeks, I’m sure pundits will begin tearing the man apart, reducing him to a “drug casualty” who
“threw away his life” in pursuit of careless hedonism.
But these accusations that he was “selfish” or “indulgent” ignore one important fact, Thompson invited his
readers with him on his frequent journeys to what I like to call “Hell’s Heaven”. In my mind that makes him
astonishingly self-sacrificing. Here is a man who polluted his body for 67 years in order to produce the most
witty, insightful, and strangely DIVINE assemblies of words ever to form sentences. He, like most under the
temporary influence of hallucinogens, spoke with the wisdom and conviction of God himself. But Thompson
managed the impossible: making that fleeting wisdom a part of his daily life – whether intoxicated or not. If self-
destructive behavior was his personal key to this higher level of consciousness, so be it.
Besides, its not like he’s in bad company. The last time a man willingly allowed himself to be led to his own
doom for the purpose of spreading truth and enlightenment, however unwanted it may have initially been, he
attained a massive legion of worldwide followers. Perhaps you’ve heard of him…his name is Jesus Christ, and
he’s especially big in the South.
Was Thompson’s suicide an acceptable thing? Of course not. I’m sure many rationalizing fans of his work will
begin pontificating that it would have been better for him to have lived a “full life” (whatever that means) than
sacrifice himself for art and freedom in such a fashion. But if Thompson heard someone say this about him
now, there is no doubt in my mind he would (to slightly paraphrase) “hit him with a chair, or stab him with some
sort of, blunt instrument…like a table fork or something of that nature”.
This was a man who never feared death. The titles of his books were frequently prefaced with the words “Fear
and Loathing…”, but those words (like everything the man wrote) were never meant to be taken literally (or
entirely seriously). Thompson most likely felt that, having done everything possible in life, there was only one last
act of freedom left to undertake – especially in the face of obvious health problems. Thompson would be
damned if advancing age and illness (and a monothesistic God whose sole existence he thought was as
absurd as “a deck of cards with only one card”) took his life before he could.
In our two-color world, some people are yins, others are yangs. Hunter S. Thompson figured out how to be both
at the same time. He was a true “Grey Savant”. Sadly, a soul in such conflict with itself is bound to tear itself apart
sooner or later. But what a glorious, beautiful flameout!! And what a treasure his writings are…more imbued
with the passion of life than most people's actual lives.
How ironic that Thompson’s death will most likely be historically overshadowed by that of his arch-enemy
Ronald Reagan, a bad actor whose only real contribution to American culture was his ability to read a good line
off a teleprompter. Is this what we as Americans should emulate? Becoming nothing more than a vacuous
cipher, a puppet if you will, for one lame-brained cause or another? Thompson didn’t think so. And I believe he
Not to worry though, Thompson is in a better place now. In fact, he’s probably chasing Reagan and Nixon
around the afterlife with a gun and a glass of scotch, laughing like “some sort of crazed, rabid jackalope” at this
very moment. Most people look to “Heavan” as some sort of “escape” from the tedium and monotony of Earthly
life. Thompson was that rare person whose life and writings managed to bring a small piece of Heavan
(however hellish it may have sometimes appeared) to this cold chunk of rock. In that sense, his life probably
hasn’t changed much – he just doesn’t need the drugs anymore.
RIP Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005)
“He who makes a beast of himself, gets rid of the pain of being a man.”
– Samuel Johnson
Note: In compliance with Thompson’s final wishes, his ashes will be scattered across his property…by being
shot from a cannon.