Writing in Theory & Practice: Paging Raoul Duke
“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity
to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
— Hunter S. Thompson
Eight years ago today, in the fortified compound known as Owl Farm, Hunter S. Thompson died from a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the head. He left a note for his wife that read: “No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your (old) age. Relax — This won’t hurt.”
Hunter S. Thompson came into my life at the young and impressionable age of 17. I had read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and not being overly mature and worldly, took it as gospel, more or less. It, and all of Hunter’s writings, were (and are) a major influence on me, not only as a writer, but in many ways, in how I look at the world around me.
He was larger than life. A man who wrote with a fire and passion that was surreal and prophetic, but intimate in a way that is hard to describe.
As a wet-behind-the-ears college student, I embarked on a wild and wooly journey of self-discovery, flirting with the idea of becoming a paranormal journalist, aping Hunter’s style and ambitious assault upon the English language. But it dawned on me, one hazy, drug-fueled evening, that there was only one Hunter S. Thompson and I wasn’t him. I was my own person, with my own style and sensibility.
Hunter was a writer who wrote with a fevered insanity, but in doing so pulled back the curtain, revealing the inner workings of the machine. He was Prometheus, stealing fire from the gods and setting the printed word alight. He was a mad genius and the world is a darker place without him in it.
Godspeed, Doctor. You are missed.