Since Christopher Hitchens’ death was announced last Thursday, fellow wordsmiths have been chronicling every word he wrote and said.
Whether you liked or detested the polemicist it would be foolhardy to deny his great literary and journalistic talents.
This afternoon I chose to reread “Trial of the Will” – the Vanity Fair article in which he positively rips to shreds Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous quote: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
When I was a student and “part-time” activist the famous quote easily rolled of my tongue in company when the discourse turned to the great feats historical figures had achieved despite being severely disadvantaged.
I was also quick to repeat it like a nervous tick when friends would confide in me about a traumatic event they had experienced.
Looking back, I don’t think I actually believed the German philosopher’s claim.
It was more I wanted to believe human beings – including me – could triumph over any adversity.
Hitchens questions why he always thought Nietzsche’s saying was “profound”.
He is brutally honest about the indescribable pain he continues to suffer because of his esophageal cancer and the medical treatment administered to inhibit its march.
The 62-year-old notes that in this harsh world we live in harrowing experiences can “leave you considerably weaker”.
The brutal death of Muammar Gaddafi is not the fairytale cinematic ending the coalition government would have wanted and, no doubt, basked in.
There will be no international war crimes trial with the flamboyant despot standing defiantly in a glass-fronted dock spouting utter nonsense from his “Green Book”.
There will also now be no possibility for the British families of victims of the atrocities he committed during his 42-year dictatorship to obtain recourse.
Instead, what the world is left with is graphic mobile phone footage showing the blooded, balding oppressor cowering as he is manhandled by those he had previously oppressed.
Moments later he was dead.
It is an observable fact that few Libyans believe justice has not been served.
Of course, that in no way puts an end to the matter but what is clear is that the focus should now be on the future of the Northern African country.
In the New Statesman’s rolling blog, Zamila Bunglawala was spot on with his diagnosis of the scope of problems its inhabitants are likely to encounter and how they can attempt to overcome them in the coming months and years.
He called for the “Franco-British led NATO push” to offer as much guidance and training as possible so Libya can move forward from this inauspicious start in a democratic fashion.
There is much work to do and this is not the time for those involved in helping to topple the self-styled “king of kings of Africa” to suddenly get cold feet because they are “unhappy” about the manner of his death.