Letters to a Young Contrarian

By Christopher Hitchens | Go to book overview

ENVOI

In his haunting little book Minima Moralia, Theodor Adorno wrote that an artistically satisfying film could doubless be made, meeting all the conditions and limitations imposed by the Hays Office (the Hollywood censor of the day), but only as long as there was no Hays Office. I have always taken that brilliantly gnomic observation to imply the following two things: First, virtue and merit can become their opposites if they are exacted or compelled. Second, no self-description or definition can be relied upon. (An official of the Teamsters' Union, asked by a Senate hearing if his union was really powerful, responded guardedly but elegantly by saying that being powerful was a little like being ladylike: "If you have to say you are, you prob'ly ain't.")

I have not, throughout our correspondence, been quite able to shake off a slight sense of imposture. If you define me as an authority on the radical you may be under an illusion; if I take your invitation at face value I may be making a fool of myself. An early tutor of mine in radical journalism, the late James Cameron, once confessed that every time he addressed the typewriter he thought to himself: "Today is the day they are going to

-139-

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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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