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Gonzo Log #3 (5/22/19)
Life ... Float with the tide, or swim for a goal?
If you haven't been living under a rock for the past 15 years, you are well aware that Hunter S. Thompson is no longer among the living. But while he was on this Earth he did a lot of living for one person, and he left behind a lot of advice for others trying to survive the great drama known as life. One of his more popular quotes asks the reader whether it is better to brave the storm of life, or merely stay on shore and simply exist. It's a valid question for all of us to consider. Granted staying on shore may seem like the safer option of the two, but it will still present a lot of problems to the consumer of this choice. Option number two is what Hunter chose to pursue, and is the choice I hope a lot you choose to consider. Braving the storm; getting out of your protective bubble and causal comforts, and diving into the great ocean of Life. Experience is the best way to grow and develop, and it is hard to gather a lot of it by staying in one place and never going much further than the place you were born. To those of you who feel that you are stuck and can't get away do to certain things that shackle you to your environment, like a job, children, rent, ect. You are not truly trapped. You only need to search deep within and find that inner strength to make the change. There is always a way, whether it be immediate, or something that takes a while to plan out. But doing nothing at all, and just hoping and wishing someday things will change will end up dragging you deeper and deeper into that pit of despair and longing for that something more. Another popular quote of Hunter's states, "a man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance." And this rings true for all those who feel as though they are stuck in their positions in life. In the end we all must choose "whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal," as Hunter so boldly put in a letter to a friend about finding purpose in life.
Blogging about life when Hunter himself said it the best in a letter to a friend is a difficult thing to do. To presume to point you all in the right direction, and assume I have all the right answers about life truly is something only a fool would do. Hunter was definitely no fool, and I hope to avoid playing the joker card myself. So to that end I will conclude this blog with that 1958 letter to a friend of Thompson's about finding ones purpose in life. If you have not read it yet, it truly is an excellent bit of advice for one human being to give to another. So without further hesitation I leave you with a wonderful statement on finding ones purpose in life as only Hunter S. Thompson could have left us.
April 22, 1958
57 Perry Street
New York City
You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal—to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.
I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.
"To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles... "
And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you've ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don't see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect—between the two things I've mentioned: the floating or the swimming.
But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he's not after the "big rock candy mountain," the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?
The answer—and, in a sense, the tragedy of life—is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It's not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.
So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?
The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on "the meaning of man" and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term "god only knows" purely as an expression.) There's very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I'm the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.
I'm going to steer clear of the word "existentialism," but you might keep it in mind as a key of sorts. You might also try something called Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre, and another little thing called Existentialism: From Dostoyevsky to Sartre. These are merely suggestions. If you're genuinely satisfied with what you are and what you're doing, then give those books a wide berth. (Let sleeping dogs lie.) But back to the answer. As I said, to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.
But don't misunderstand me. I don't mean that we can't BE firemen, bankers, or doctors—but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires—including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.
As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal) he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).
In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life—the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.
Let's assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let's assume that you can't see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN—and here is the essence of all I've said—you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.
Naturally, it isn't as easy as it sounds. You've lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn't any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.
So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, "I don't know where to look; I don't know what to look for."
And there's the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don't know—is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.
If I don't call this to a halt, I'm going to find myself writing a book. I hope it's not as confusing as it looks at first glance. Keep in mind, of course, that this is MY WAY of looking at things. I happen to think that it's pretty generally applicable, but you may not. Each of us has to create our own credo—this merely happens to be mine.
If any part of it doesn't seem to make sense, by all means call it to my attention. I'm not trying to send you out "on the road" in search of Valhalla, but merely pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it. There is more to it than that—no one HAS to do something he doesn't want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that's what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You'll have lots of company.
And that's it for now. Until I hear from you again, I remain,
your friend ...
Gonzo Log #4 (6/11/19)
Traveling ... Get Out And Explore!
Hunter S. Thompson couldn't stay in one spot for too long. He was on the go a lot, and explored all over the world. From the Americas, to tropical islands, over to Europe, and even parts of Asia, Thompson was on the move, writing, learning, and exploring.
Eventually settling down in Woody Creek, Colorado, Thompson had an early history bouncing around from place to place looking for work, and trying to make a name for himself. In the very beginning Louisville, Kentucky was his stomping grounds where he developed a 'bad boy' reputation which provided him a short list of options out of high school. The Air Force was one of those options where he was lucky enough to land a writing gig as sports editor for a base in Pensacola, Florida. Upon being kicked out of the base he made some connections in New York, where he lived and worked various jobs, bouncing from place to place, always dealing with the ever-looming hand of poverty. After awhile in New York he embarked on his first grand adventure to South America with the hopes of writing articles for anyone who would read them and also pay him for them. After weeks struggling to provide himself basic living conditions things started looking up for Thompson. He was able sell some of his writings to magazines in the States, which provided him with just enough money to finish his journey and make it home again.
Gonzo Log #1 (5/7/19)
Now to begin, I will immediately clarify that I am not Hunter S. Thompson, nor am I going to attempt to write like him. The website and Twitter feed are dedicated to his likeness, but I do not plan to try and imitate his style, or behavior. The topics discussed here will though relate to topics Thompson himself may have covered if he were still writing today. And the Gonzo style will surly be evident throughout these posts.
Today's world is filled with craziness all around us. Specifically within the political climate of the United States of America, It would seem like Thompson would have had his work cut out for him. Everyday seems to spiral further and further down a path of political uncertainty. I receive a lot of comments on the Twitter feed that read something like, "If only HST were around today to cover whats happening." This is a valid thought for anyone to have, including myself. But we seem to forget why Hunter S. Thompson is no longer with us today. Along with his drastically failing health, he was one of the few people who saw the true decay of our political climate through a lens no one else seemed to care to look through at the time. He saw the rise of Trumpism and the great political divide this this country was forming throughout his time covering politics on both a local and national level. His book the 'Hell's Angels' documented a split in the working class vs. the elite while he co-mingled along side the motorcycle club. His bout running for Sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado offered up a bitter taste of politics that he would always keep with him. 'Fear and Loathing on the Campaign trail '72' took him even deeper into political craziness when he followed around candidates for President of the United States, including his nemesis Richard M. Nixon, who he would battle on a personal level for years to come. 'Better Than Sex' would cover his time once again following political candidates, this time focusing on the end years of George Bush Sr. and the Iran-Contra debacle, as well as the rise of Bill Clinton and his lust for the White House. 'Kingdom of Fear' outlined atrocities such as the World Trade Center attacks and a never ending war in the Middle East. These examples are only a few of the many things Thompson wrote about over his many years as a Gonzo Journalist. But to get back to my point, these issues and historical events led to where we are today in this foul year of our lord, 2019. Thompson saw the future as it is today. The chaos, the turmoil, the political uncertainty, all the bullshit that surrounds us each day. He saw this coming and decided it was time to check out of this world. He wanted no part of this mess. It had gotten to the point where it was no longer something he needed, nor wanted, to stick around and see. We, including myself, all wish Hunter were still around to write about Trump and everything that is happening today, but unfortunately that is not the case. He chose to write about the things that bore down upon his environment and used his words as a hammer to destroy his opponents. Thompson picked his battles and he eventually decided upon his own ending. In this regard we should respect his choice to take his own life. After all, it was his choice, and his choice alone to terminate his very existence as a human being. But in the end he left behind his findings and discoveries as a Gonzo Journalist constantly on move. His writings are like a template for historians and like-minded individuals to study upon and to analyze for future generations to expand upon. Hunter may be gone, but his spirit will always remain to serve as a harbinger for all the crazy bat-shit things that will surly happen in this country in the future. I recommend reading his collected works, if you haven't already. Thompson truly was a visionary in his own right. He saw the high water mark. That place where the wave finally broke and started to roll back. His writing lives on as a reminder to us all that the rat race is never final, that we hold the keys to continue his journalistic experience. We too can use the art as a hammer to destroy the Right people...
Stay weird my friends,
Gonzo Log #2 (5/15/19)
Gonzo Journalism ... what does it really mean?
For many of you Gonzo Journalism is a very familiar style of writing. For others, it may still be a mystery. If you're anything like myself, when I first started reading the works of HST, Gonzo was a very confusing word. At first it was difficult to understand what it truly meant and what it's purpose was in the overall grand scheme of writing. As time went on I began to understand it more and more, as I'm sure a lot of you have as well. The straight definition of Gonzo Journalism is: journalism that treats a subject in a very personal, unusual, and often shocking way. But it goes much deeper than just that. Hunter himself proclaims that Gonzo is a style of writing that must be "experienced" instead of merely "read." To that end the reader of Gonzo Journalism needs to be in a proper state of mind to get the most out of the prose. If you have been following my Twitter feed, the first post of the day was a quote about writing being compared to music. To Thompson, writing wasn't something he simply did, writing was something he experienced, and when it really worked for him it felt like music. He was able to get in a groove of paragraphs flowing together so smoothly, to him, it was like a song with a beginning and an end in perfect synchrony. He would not only write, he would experience, as well as participate in the overall process. That is what would become true Gonzo Journalism. The writer putting themselves within the scene of their own writing, and creating an experience for themselves, as well as, the intended audience of the prose. To this day Gonzo Journalism is a very unique writing style that many try to imitate, and many do so very well. Thompson was the Godfather of Gonzo. He paved the way for all of us to not just "read," but to "experience" Journalism. In classics such as, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and The Rum Diary, Thompson collaborated with himself to create these masterpieces. He used personal experiences, along with creative plot twists, to portray these scenes as works of fiction. This allowed the reader to come to their own conclusions on whether or not what they were reading/experiencing was real or just plain fantasy.
"Gonzo Journalism is a style of reporting based on William Faulkner's idea that the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism." - Hunter S. Thompson
Stay weird my friends,