Christopher Hitchens – Mortality (2012)

From the human throat terrible banes can also emerge: bawling, droning, whining, yelling, inciting (“the windiest militant trash,” as Auden phrased it in the same poem), and even snickering. It’s the chance to pitch still, small voices against this torrent of babble and noise, the voices of wit and understatement, for which one yearns.

Christopher Hitchens – Mortality (2012)

To my writing classes I used later to open by saying that anybody who could talk could also write. Having cheered them up with this easy-to-grasp ladder, I then replaced it with a huge and loathsome snake: “How many people in this class, would you say, can talk? I mean really talk?” This had its duly woeful effect.

Christopher Hitchens – Mortality (2012)

The most comprehensive investigation of the subject ever conducted—the “Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer,” of 2006, could find no correlation at all between the number and regularity of prayers offered and the likelihood that the person being prayed for would have improved chances. But it did find a small but interesting negative correlation, in that some patients suffered slight additional woe when they failed to manifest and improvement. That felt that they had disappointed their devoted supporters.

Christopher Hitchens – Mortality (2012)

Third, why not a thunderbolt for yours truly, or something similarly awe-inspiring? The vengeful deity has a sadly depleted arsenal if all he can think of is exactly the cancer that my age and former “lifestyle” would suggest that I got.

(in response to a Christian declaring that Hitchens’s illness was God punishing him for blasphemy)

Christopher Hitchens – Mortality (2012)

People don’t have cancer: They are reported to be battling cancer. No well-wisher omits the combative image: You can beat this. It’s even in the obituaries for cancer losers, as if one might reasonably say of someone that they died after a long and brave struggle with mortality.