"Football Season Is Over"
"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."
- The words of Hunter S. Thompson written just prior to his suicide.
Yes, Hunter, the Football Season is almost over, but as you should have remembered, spring soon follows. You once searched for the American Dream. You once trained a dog to hate Nixon. You oftentimes sought to escape the real world, or at least to be in a "medicated" state to see the world for what it was, or what it wasn't...or was it to see the world in the way you wanted it to be, or was it to see something no one else had seen. I have read many of your words, but I am still unsure what you were really trying to accomplish in that regard. Were you striving to be the "Picture of Dorian Gray" for the American Dream. Did you think that by pushing the limits of Freedom of Speech, by elevating the "Ugly American" to an art form, by causing havoc with guns and explosives, by exposing the Hell's Angels and then by living a life similarly hedonistic, by attacking politicians and then becoming one, or by mourning the impending death of the American Dream that you could in some way suck the venom out of its faltering soul? Were you a written and real-life caricature of what made America great as well as desperate?
I miss you Hunter. I did not agree with much of your political views or your pessimism. I did not much care for the way you treated people at times, especially near the end. Yet, you brought us virtual reality before X-Boxes, HD 3-D and the Internet, and you did it in a way that made you think, question and thirst for adventure and experience. I learned your lessons well and I have the regrets to prove it, but I owe you much. I have moved on from fast cars, masochistic poor choices and existentialist self-absorption, but you always made me ask three questions: 1) Is the American Dream dead?; 2) Am I living by self-imposed boundaries that are counter-productive?; and 3) Is the ugliness that is just beneath the surface in all of us render us hopeless, or is there a beauty and purpose in what we are and have done?
Not much has changed, and everything has changed, since you left us. We have a President that I think you would have liked, but the doubts about the continued existence of the American Dream are as intense as they have ever been and he is struggling to restore confidence, much less optimism. The "Ugly American" is now truly an art form and we call it "reality TV". Many claim to have originated the idea that the ugliness within us can be entertaining, but we both know you were offending people and bringing chaos wherever you ventured to many people's delight long before cable.
I referenced "The Picture of Dorian Gray" earlier and within it Oscar Wilde wrote:
"The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful."
I know you yielded to many temptations during the course of your life, but I fear your soul was sick nonetheless as you raised the barrel to your head and soon after took the gift that was your life from us. I hope you found peace.
As for me, I believe we are in the fourth quarter of the last game of football season. Up till now, I believe man has been playing a game against himself and nature, but the real business of deciding the future of human society, the human race and the purpose for our very existence is about to begin.
Hunter, the American Dream is not dead, it was never even sick. It was just metamorphosizing. The chrysalis is a tomb for the caterpillar, but a womb for the butterfly. Just as it is surprising to see what a caterpillar really is once it is fully evolved, it is similarly surprising to learn that the American Dream is not even American, it is a Human Dream. The "shell" of American culture is in the process of being shed from the distilled essence of what was once known as the America Dream. America was always just the mechanism by which the virtue and purpose of our species could be cultivated, nurtured and shared. I know it was hard to see at times what with all the violence, discrimination, waste and excess, but freedom, democracy, education, wealth and tolerance is spreading well beyond US borders. It is far from perfect, and the next 50 or so years are going to be challenging, but compared to where we came from, and what we endured over the last few thousand years, the next few dozen shouldn't be so bad.
Wish you were here to see it happen. Believe it or not, the "bad craziness" is going to become quite good.