The savage and brutal saga that was Hunter Stockton Thompson has ended. Thompson apparently killed himself at his "armed compound" in Colorado. Here is the story from the Denver Post (some of the better coverage of the event that I found).
HST has always been of great interest to me and an inspration of sorts. His most influential contribution (apart from years of honest and uncompromising sociopolitical commentary) was his idea of "gonzo journalism." Put simply, he wanted to blur the lines between the event and the reporter, between passive and active writing. To get the story, one must become part of the event.
I have always believed that life should be interactive. There should not be simple A to B transmission where words/music/images/ideas are inflicted on a subject. The audience is as much a part of any performance as the performers, and so it was for HST. He famously said "buy the ticket, take the ride." To really get at the core of any event or idea, one must actively engage it and let it become as much a part of you as you are a reflection of it.
HST advocated the blurring of the subject and object because it only makes sense to do so. The use of alcohol and myriad of mind-enhancing substances only serves to intensify, redefine and mold the experience. They help one to not be passive but act on repressed instinct and gut feeling without meddlesome rationality creeping in. This is perhaps the only way to confront the baffling ordeal that is modern (or arguably postmodern) life. Reduced to perceptions and emotion, the truth sears through the darkness like a thin flash of hot enlightenment. Few have ever understood and crystalized this notion better than HST.
Why did he do it? Who knows and it is not really the crucial element of the story. In a very real way, if there was no HST, the world would have to create him. He stands in time and suspended from it; a product of his time and a witness to the transcendence of time that is rarely achieved. He went in search of the American Dream, a search that drove HST to become the happy warrior of doom, a dark gallows prophet who stared the beast in the mouth and lived to tell the tale.
He is like us and unlike us. He represents the possibilities and the shortfalls of the 20th century in America. He is what we would all be if we were honest and truly sought the inner wisdom of the cosmos.
So, Doc, thanks for having the courage to keep the bastards honest all of these years. We will raise our Wild Turkey high and try to continue the good work.
The real ride lies before us...where the hell will we end up next?
It opened up my eyes I saw the sign
4 weeks ago