Monday, February 13, 2012

Kingdom of Fear (book review)

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Simon & Schuster

King of the Original Gonzo ranters and one of our spiritual forebearers, Doctor Thompson's carousing, maverick style is imitated poorly by middle-class English-Lit majors and shameless sell-out, P.J. O'Rourke, almost as often asLester Bangs and Papa Bukowski, and all too often by those who completely miss the point about what it means to be a maverick. Louisville, Kentucky native, H.S.T. has blazed an uncommon trail across the decades, developing his distinctive voice as a social-commentator, freedom fighter and penetrating American sociologist, all while openly consuming vast quantities of controlled substances, staying a few paranoid steps ahead of the fun-police and consorting with a daunting array of infamous pill poppers, politicians, performance artists, and other subcultural subterraneans. Mocking abusive and petty authority; fulminating about corruption and greed; skewering the heartbreakingly corrupt hypocrisy of the monied in this country and generally living by his own rules, seizing the liberties we're all entitled to as sovereign-born human beings--but get beaten into believing are no longer worth fighting to defend. Now in his sixties, Hunter remains livid and appalled by this saber-rattling, illegitimately installed President ("goofy child president") whom he mocks with un-camouflaged abhorrence. His incendiary riffs on the Gulf War and it's endless, insatiably bloodthirsty current sequels are as indispensable, vivifying, and precise as ever. It's a shame that Thompson's acerbic observations and wry wit still seem so shocking. His no time to fuck around style of courageous whistle blowing and hyperbole-drunken auto-mythologizing still provide an unexpected jolt, lulled as we are, by the party-line liars and personality-free hacks we currently endure. Imperishably-established as part of the pantheon of American Myth, Thompson continues to jeopardize his own prosperity by provoking power and setting an example as to what it means to behave as though we're free in a free society, and the recurring consequences of being your own person. "Kingdom of Fear" is mandatory reading for anyone left who really still believes in authentic freedom and democracy--as opposed to craven authoritarianism, cosmetic rebellion,the anesthesia of constant consumption, capitalist imperialism and chilling Orwellian double-speak. As
-Pepsi Sheen

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