Friday, September 26, 2014

the Gonzo

My husband and I are huge fans of Hunter S. Thompson. There are few authors we agree on but we love him, Palahnuick and Vonnegut. He introduced me to this maniac writing style of quasi-journalism mixed with person testimony and a whole lot of hallucinations. I found it quite entertaining; the thought of a man paid to tell the story of a race in the middle of the desert instead telling the story of his drugged out adventure on writing the article itself. Of course this style of writing now has a name but before Thompson Gonzo journalism wasn't really a thing and even during his time he wasn't often taken to seriously. Even by the liberal media as far as his news reports were concerned. But no one could deny that this style of writing was entertaining. Rereading this excerpt played out exactly like the movie staring Johnney Depp. Drugged out speeding down the high way with Benecio Del Toro in the drivers seat and a very strange looking Tobey Macquire in the back. I feel as though I can literally see Thompson swatting at these imaginary bats. One element of the story that I believe stands out in the book far greater than in the movie is the sense Thompson and especially his lawyer have that the world around them is full of crazies and going to shit and in fact they are the last few sane members of society. When Thompson's attorney threatens to bomb the electronics store and burn down the sales associates house then says "'That'll give him something to think about,' he muttered as we drove off. 'The guy is a paranoid psychotic, anyway. They're easy to spot .'" (Thompson 7). It's just the irony that makes me laugh calling the sales man a psychotic but they see nothing wrong with speeding down the highway at 90+ miles per hours tripped out on qualudes. But this is why I think I find Thompson's style so enthralling. I've been around my fair share of drugs even though I chose to stay sober I've seen my friends 'tripping balls' and for some reason I see all those old times, friends, parties in the writing of Thompson. Laughing at the person seeing dragons while watching CNN. Playing baby sitter to my friends on robatussin watching them walk like they've never used their legs before and move so awkwardly it's hard not to laugh. I understand that was childish and unsafe but I can't pretend that reading "fear and loathing" doesn't take me back to that place. Of feeling like you're in the underbelly of life. Walking a thin line and like this balancing act gave you a deeper understanding of reality. I know now that I was wrong and I enjoy being a "square" and have unfortuatly had to cut most all of those people out of my life but I know I'm better for it in the long run. Thompson lived fast and died tragically. I saw a documentary made by his friends, in particular Johnny Depp who built a Gonzo fist in his memory to celebrate his life and existence. And maybe like his bio said he didn't want to become the english professor reliving his glory days by retelling the same story about the time he drove through the desert high on ether. He didn't want to even say goodbye to his youth and instead ended his life before that happened. 

Would Thompson have been as influential to the world of writing without the drugs? Is Gonzo journalism really even journalism or is it more a column of personal biased opinion? Did Thompson have an understanding of the world and a clear insight of the people around him like him and his attorney believed?  Or was he just a really eloquent drug addict? 

1 comment:

  1. I vote for eloquent druggie. I have little tolerance for Thompson's self-destructive behavior.