“If I’d written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people–including me–would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.” –Hunter S. Thompson
Like most, I’ve been influenced by many a great writer. Names like George Orwell, Hemingway (like every fucking hack will tell you, blindly), and your basic magazine feature writer. The vast majority of the latter have some of the best voices in all of writing, trust me. But one, one savage beast propelled by sheer will and heavyweight narcotics has always kept me in equal parts awe and determination.
The doc, Hunter S. Thompson.
The nut graph and tie-in here is me obviously just seeing Johnny Depp’s take on The Rum Diary, Hunter’s first and only published piece of true fiction. (Albeit, this is a thinly disguised piece of fiction about Hunter’s earlier days as a struggling journalist in Puerto Rico, finding his voice.) And as a young, scrappy writer myself, you know exactly what the nascent Hunter was doing, specifically with finding that bloody voice. This is paramount. Because, as we know, anyone can write. We can all stab at our keyboards with poised fingers and string some half-assed drivel together. But effective, true, thought-inducing writing–well, good Lord, that’s a different kind of stabbing.
His rage-steeped ink chased the bastards, typically politicians, to give the reader the truth.
Most of Hunter’s legacy is a pastiche of a manic, drug-induced madman chasing Nixon in a hilarity-filled, non-stop hunt for justice and the truth. That pill-popping, shrieking freak that fully embedded himself with the Hell’s Angels in the ‘60s to bring about what would become a new journalistic style, which he cemented with even more booze and ether in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Gonzo journalism. The twisted, hell-bent search for the truth via the writer being a part of the story, hell, the key and most crucial part of the story. The true source.
And what arose from Hunter’s journalism was more of the truth than the typical, carbon copy hard news journalist could conjure. He diligently studied the issue or person of interest and infiltrated himself in the issue until he got at the nasty, puss-filled underbelly. And he called it what it was in such a horrifically poignant writing style. His rage-steeped ink chased the bastards, typically politicians, to give the reader the truth. To bring the greedy bastards to justice.
Having been a key proponent and witness to many a protest in his day, Hunter would have been a delight to watch as the Occupy (fill in the city) protests unfold. His rage-steeped ink would be going right for the corporate jugular in a way that no one else could grasp.