Christopher Hitchens


Christopher Hitchens often addressed death and mortality in his essays, debates and lectures. In fact, he wrote an entire novel on death, with the title simply being Mortality, which was written specifically as a look at the disease he was suffering from, that of esophageal cancer. However, he spoke of death often. One of his most famous quotes came just a few days before his death where he said:

"One should try to write as if posthumously"

In an interview taken around one year before the death of Hitchens, he talks in great detail about his disease and what it was doing to him. At one point, he says:

"When I meet people who say–which they do all the time–'I Must tell you, my great aunt had cancer of the elbow and the doctors gave her 10 seconds to live, but I last heard she was climbing Mount Everest,' and so forth, I switch off quite early. If this story is not about mestasticized esophageal cancer, I'm not that interested. If you can tell me something about that, I'm passionately interested. All the cheer-up stories, I'm afraid, have made me an esophageal cancer snob."

When asked about what the doctors had been saying about his disease and what it was doing to him, he said:

"They say that there's a good chance of buying some time, getting a stay, a remission…I prefer to low ball it myself, because then the only surprise I can have is a reasonably pleasant one. However, I can tell you that if you take the aggregate of people who've got what I've got, only five percent of those live for five years."

Hitchens later addressed what he felt having cancer was like, saying:

"It's part of life, is what it is, and it's a dress rehearsal for important episodes of life, which is how you wind it up."

He looks at his eventual death as an inevitability of evolution, further stating:

"I'm here in the process of evolution, which rates life relatively cheaply. I mean, most human beings who have ever been born would have been dead long before they reached my age. The cosmos doesn't know I'm here and won't notice when I'm gone."

This interview was given shortly before Hitchens death from complications of the disease on December 15, 2011.

One month before Hitchens' death, a collective of his devoted fans on Reddit put together a video to pass on their appreciation of his direct influence upon their own lives. The main goal of this video was to make sure he saw this before passing, rather that making it a posthumous tribute.

One of the primary elements of the video was giving a friendly "cheers to Hitchens" with an alcoholic drink in hand as a sign of respect. However this was slightly ironic considering the fact that alcohol was likely a catalyst, in part at least, to the esophageal cancer which killed him.

The tribute video from his fans can be seen here: