Day 85 of 96 – A Farewell

16 Dec

I got to meet Christopher Hitchens once and recalling the encounter always makes me smile.

In September 2007 I attended the Atheist Alliance International conference in Washington DC. On the first night I managed to talk to Hitch for a bit. I had wanted to share with him an amusing anecdote that involved one of his books.

The previous week I had been reading his biography of Thomas Paine on the bus on the way to work. There was a passage that quoted the ancient Greek poet Archilochus “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”. Well that very morning, when I got to work and sat down at my desk, I looked out the window and ten feet in front of me there was a fox fighting a groundhog. I’d never even seen a fox in the wild before let alone one fighting another animal. Having read the quote from Hitch’s book just forty minutes earlier made the whole situation even more surreal.

I was expecting a brief discussion about the meaning of the quote but after telling him the story Hitch simply exclaimed, “My God man! Where do you work?” A second later he was called to the podium to speak. We didn’t get to finish the conversation and even today I sometimes find myself reflecting on the meaning of the metaphor. Incidentally, the groundhog won the fight (or more accurately – didn’t lose).

He wasn’t always right, but I always learned something from reading his stuff. I will miss Christopher Hitchens.

3 Responses to “Day 85 of 96 – A Farewell”

  1. Jesse December 16, 2011 at 12:56 #

    Cool.

  2. Lottabot December 16, 2011 at 14:42 #

    You never saw a fox before that?? I find that hard to believe.

    • Uncle Ross December 20, 2011 at 00:58 #

      He’s a city kid who grew up in the wilds of Queenswood Heights.

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