‘Fear and loathing’ began in Dallas

Bill Kelly points out that Hunter S. Thompson coined his immortal phrase “fear and loathing” on the day of JFK’s assassination. In three words, the gonzo journalist had captured a mood that would never go away.

In a letter to novelist William Kennedy, Thompson wrote,

I suppose you will say the rotten murder has no meaning for a true writer of fiction, and that the “real artist” in the “little magazines” are above such temporal things. I wish I could agree, but in fact I think what happened today is far more meaningful than the entire contents of the “little magazines” for the past 20 years. And the next 20, if we get that far.

15 comments

  1. Jonathan says:

    Another writer:

    “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.”

    Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

    • Thomas says:

      That’s an amazing quote.

    • marty feeney says:

      Jonathan thanks so much for posting this. I will share with my classes. For years I have assigned Fear and Loathing Campaign ’72. Thompson at his best could juxtaposition with Jon Stewart. He understood the Nixonian Vulgar Impulses. The animal metaphors in that book sum up Deep State as The Borg.

      Not many ‘sly whispers’ on this site. I don’t think ‘secretly’ and ‘unknown’ characterize the dialogue here.

      Though the rapid and incessant harpoons spittooning and gooning remind me of Scottie hanging off a gutter in Vertigo. The chase up the stairs… Discovery? We can take it.

      Sooning.

  2. Alan Dale says:

    “The killing has put me in a state of shock. The rage is trebled. I was not prepared at this time for the death of hope, but here it is. Ignore it at your peril. I have written Semonin, that cheap book-store Marxist, that he had better tell his boys to buy bullets. And forget the dialectic. This is the end of reason, the dirtiest hour in our time.”

    HST
    22 Nov., 1963

    • Ronnie Wayne says:

      “I was not prepared at this time for the death of hope, ignore it at your peril… This is the end of reason, the dirtiest hour of our time”.

  3. Zebulon says:

    Thompson was a genius, one of the few this country has produced. I never believed that he committed suicide,finding it impossible to think that he could shoot himself in front of a child. What is much more more likely is that the rotten government silenced him just like they did JFK.. What more logical end for a powerful and courageous foe of the secret cabal than execution? We know that even as far back as “The Hell’s Angels” the FBI was spying on Thompson and bugging him. Also, it is a little known fact that during Thompson’s military career he was contacted by the CIA in an attempt to utilize him to spy on the anti-war movement as he freely moved in those circles and was trusted by all. Those records have been sealed, the FBI was satisfied with besmirching his reputation with phony drug-abuse stories and claims after he refused to co-operate. His ultimate reward for loyalty to the progressive cause? Death. Sounds familiar, because it is.

    • Shane McBryde says:

      I doubt that. He had long since ceased being a voice for any progressive causes. He was writing hackney football columns for ESPN when he passed. Unless you’re suggesting the NFL took him out.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Hunter Thompson is adored on the Left; I know that from visiting lefty blogs. He’s invisible to the Right.

    My only encounter with his work was the movie “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” I’ve spent a lot of time in both southern California and Las Vegas. The Johnny Depp character was so affected, so distorted, as to bear no relation to reality for me.

    I’m more of a Dostoyevsky-Eliot sort of bent. I appreciate fiction filled with insight. HST seems to me to have caught a weird reflection of human behavior; not insight, just a glint.

  5. anonymous says:

    “He’s invisible to the Right.”

    Maybe HST was invisible because he was disappeared. Like HST, Prouty was marginalised,having been “relegated to the fringes along with countless other conspiracy crackpots”. He doesn’t sound like a crackpot in this 1989 interview:
    http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/USO/index.html

    Prouty believed his book was disappeared – he began writing for men’s magazines:
    http://www.theguardian.com/news/2001/jun/22/guardianobituaries

    • Here are some things you need to know about Prouty:

      http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/prouty.htm

      • Ronnie Wayne says:

        And here are some things all should know about you from (the dead) Prouty’s site.
        http://www.prouty.org/mcadams/

        Thanks to Shayne McBride for the original link.

        • Bill Clarke says:

          Ronnie Wayne July 13, 2014 at 10:05 pm

          Thanks for the link. I had never seen it before and found it highly amusing.

          I especially like the article by Jim DiEugenio with Brian Hunt. DiEugenio restates his incorrect understanding of NSAM 263 in the article that I briefly skimmed over. Lord knows what else is incorrect in the article.

          The Gary Aguilar article was also a dandy. Aguilar used to drop into a Vietnam Veteran newsgroup I belonged to so he could tell us how “Jack” would have saved us from Vietnam. I guess he tired of being booed since he stopped posting there.

          My point being, I didn’t know anyone at the page that had any room to condemn John McAdams.

  6. Gerry Simone says:

    Interesting. Another writer wrote:

    Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason? Why if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

    John Harrington

  7. fnn says:

    “Hunter Thompson is adored on the Left; I know that from visiting lefty blogs. He’s invisible to the Right.”

    Steve Sailer brings him up a lot.

  8. kj says:

    Dick Goodwin was good friends with Hunter S. Thompson with Thompson attending the Goodwin-Kearns wedding. Mr. Goodwin told me Thompson left the water running and destroyed his Concord hotel room!

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