Letters to a Young Contrarian

By Christopher Hitchens | Go to book overview

VII

I'm so glad that you liked the Microcosmographia. It's a delight in itself, of course, but I keep it by me as a reminder that many questions are actually quite simple. There's a small paradox here; the job of supposed intellectuals is to combat oversimplification or reductionism and to say, well, actually, it's more complicated than that. At least, that's part of the job. However, you must have noticed how often certain "complexities" are introduced as a means of obfuscation. Here it becomes necessary to ply with glee the celebrated razor of old Occam, dispose of unnecessary assumptions, and proclaim that, actually, things are less complicated than they appear. Very often in my experience, the extraneous or irrelevant complexities are inserted when a matter of elementary justice or principle is at issue.

My best illustration here would be the case of my dear friend Salman Rushdie. You would think, perhaps, that when he was assaulted by a theocratic fatwah in 1989, his fellow authors would have rushed to his defense. Here was an open incitement to murder, accompanied by the offer of a bounty and directed at a writer of fiction who wasn't even a citizen of the said theocracy.

-47-

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Letters to a Young Contrarian
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction xi
  • I 1
  • II 13
  • III 19
  • IV 27
  • V 35
  • VI 41
  • VII 47
  • VIII 53
  • IX 55
  • X 61
  • IX 69
  • XII 79
  • XIII 85
  • XIV 95
  • XV 105
  • XVI 115
  • XVII 123
  • XVIII 127
  • Envoi 139
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