Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hunter S. Thompson and the Bible.

Hunter S. Thompson and the Bible.

The only book I ever read by Hunter S. Thompson was “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Regardless of what you feel about his life or his constant ingestion of drugs ranging from acid to horse tranquilizers, the man was a talented writer. His words are raw, a vein exposed to the air of readers, sentences seemingly scrapped from his own still beating heart with a razor blade.

Recently, in an issue of Rolling Stone, they profiled his life as a young man. Told through quotes from friends and family members, the article unfolded a curious look at the person who would one day invent the concept of Gonzo Journalism. The thing that struck me the most was his approach to classic works of literature. Here is what is friend Porter Bibb said:

“We all believed we were Fitzgerald incarnate. Hunter was as passionate as the rest of us about this. This is when he started typing out Fitzgerald and Hemingway books word by word. I used to kid Hunter a lot and say, “You’re not Fitzgerald. What the F*&^ are you typing The Great Gatsby for? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“You know,” he said, “I just like to get the feel of how it is to write those words.”

The easy response to that concept is to write off Thompson as an obsessed addict that would one day kill himself. But when I read that I felt a challenge from Hunter.

Here was a man that was desperate to be a writer, to be the greatest writer he could be, to unlock that part of him he knew was waiting deep inside. So he studied the masters, to the point of actually writing out entire books just to know how those words felt under his fingertips. All of which makes me wonder why I treat the Bible so casually.

Hunter showed more reverence for The Great Gatsby than I do the Bible. He invested more time and energy and heart and soul into understanding the inner workings of Fitzgerald than I do the inner workings of God.

I’m not saying I should write out the Bible word for word, I’m just admitting that I spend a shamefully small amount of time in it. I read it about 20 minutes every morning, but I don’t pour over it. Most days I look at it like taking a vitamin. It’s something I do. It’s something I think is good for me, but I don’t really ingest it. It doesn’t necessarily shape the rest of my day or flavor my thinking for any given time. And I think that’s a problem.

I guess what I’m saying is I want to read the Bible with the same passion Hunter S. Thompson read The Great Gatsby.

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