Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Actions and Reputations

In an excerpt from his new memoir, Christopher Hitchens writes about drink, a subject that tends to follow him around:
I once paid a visit to the grotesque holding-pen that the United States government maintains at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. There wasn't an unsupervised moment on the whole trip, and the main meal we ate—​a heavily calorific affair that was supposed to demonstrate how well-nourished the detainees were—​was made even more inedible by the way that water (with the option of a can of Sprite) flowed like wine. Yet a few days later I ran into a friend at the White House who told me half-admiringly: "Way to go at Guantánamo: they say you managed to get your own bottle and open it down on the beach and have a party." This would have been utterly unfeasible in that bizarre Cuban enclave, half-madrassa and half-stockade, but it was still completely and willingly believed. Publicity means that actions are judged by reputations and not the other way about: I never wonder how it happens that mythical figures in religious history come to have fantastic rumors credited to their names.


Blogger Barbara Carlson said...

For most people, Mr. H. must suddenly seem Everywhere -- newspapers, magazines, blogs, TV. Even the library -- there are hundreds of people waiting for his memoirs via HOLD ITEM. It will be a year before I get my eyes on it, but no matter, it will still be as rewarding a read I am sure, having read long excerpts and seen him interviewed.
It's like Steve Martin said, "After 20 years, I'm an overnight success."

2:59 PM  

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