the war on error


Christopher Hitchens is living in what Philip Gould, the New Labour pollster and author of The Unfinished Revolution, described in a recent, and poignant, BBC interview as the “death zone”. He, like Gould, is terminally ill. We all live under a death sentence, however long it may be suspended, but it concentrates the mind if you are told that the end is much nearer than you would have wished – terrifyingly near. “I had immense plans for the next decade,” Hitchens said wistfully when he was diagnosed with inoperable oesophageal cancer last autumn. There is, inevitably, an air of last things about this collection of essays, reviews and columns written over the past decade or so, a sense of leave-taking, and you read Arguably knowing that this great provocateur and polemicist will soon be silenced. Since being told a year ago that he had as little as another year to live, Hitchens’ articles have been written with “full consciousness that they might be my very last”. This is, he writes in the introduction, “Sobering in one way and exhilarating in another … it has given me a more vivid idea of what makes life worth living, and defending.” The epigraph to Arguably is a resonant line from Henry James’s The Ambassadors: “Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.”

more from Jason Cowley at the FT here. (PS many filthy rich people read 3QD regularly. Don’t ask how we know. We just know. Today is Filthy-Rich-People-Give-$500-Day in our fundraiser. You know who you are. You are filthy rich and you care about intelligent writing. No shame in that. Today is your day.)