Slate published on Wednesday a series of notes and scribblings; the last works of Christopher Hitchens that comprise the final chapter of his final book “Mortality“. As an admirer of the late polemicist (I am currently reading his memoir, Hitch 22), this is a real treat for me.
This collection of thoughts and incomplete ideas are a testament to the fact that, even as his body was failing, Hitch’s mind – his wit, intelligence and, most important to him, his sense of irony – was as sharp as ever. My favorite “piece” is the one found at the bottom of the page; a passage from the novel “Einstein’s Dreams” by Alan Lightman (transcribed for use in a future essay, perhaps?). Lightman’s passage aptly puts into words the sentiment that, while Hitch did not welcome death (particularly not in the manner in which it was foisted upon him), he did realize that the only proper form of immortality one should ever hope to achieve is through their heirs, their works and their legacy:
With infinite life comes an infinite list of relatives. Grandparents never die, nor do great-grandparents, great aunts…and so on, back through the generations, all alive and offering advice. Sons never escape from the shadows of their fathers. Nor do daughters of their mothers. No one ever comes into his own…Such is the cost of immortality. No person is whole. No person is free.
Read the whole chapter here.