View Full Version : The influential writer

10-13-2007, 01:27 AM
There is a very moving article in the new Vanity Fair by Christopher Hitchens about a soldier who volunteered to go to Iraq and was killed by an IED. The young soldier volunteered because of an article Hitchens had written earlier supporting the war. (He has since changed his mind.)

However, as a writer, this is what I found most instructive, his quotation from Macbeth, along with a comment:

Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's debt;
He only lived but till he was a man;
The which no sooner had his prowess confirm'd
In the unshrinking station where he fought,
But like a man he died.

Hitchens continues:
This being Shakespeare, the truly emotional and understated moment follows a beat or two later, when Ross adds,
Your cause of sorrow
Must not be measured by his worth, for then
It hath no end.

10-13-2007, 01:30 AM
I think it's brutal that he supported it and now doesn't...it seems a waste of the life that joined because of his support.

10-13-2007, 03:21 AM
The words we write can be very powerful and have an impact on the lives of people unknown to us. We should always be conscience of this when writing.

10-16-2007, 09:13 PM
So true Birol.
I was pm'd with a question about the term beats: so here is one explanation.
Robert McKee (Story) puts it like this:

A beat is the smallest element of structure. “A BEAT is an exchange of behavior in action/reaction. Beat by beat these changing behaviors shape the turning of a scene.” He gives an example of two lovers who start the morning teasing each other . . . which turns to sarcasm and insults . . . which goes on . . . and on . . . until they agree to break up. The wake up scene has three beats which progress to a scene in the breakfast which has three more. If you want to consider the total “breakup scene” as the morning/breakfast group of beats, then you have his example of six beats turning the action – the couple leave the scene, no longer lovers. The writer’s goal was achieved, if not the characters’ goals.

10-16-2007, 11:13 PM
I think you're mistaken in your belief that Hitchens no longer supports the Charlie Foxtrot in Iraq. To the contrary, he continues to believe it was a fine idea, he's mostly just cheesed that they've managed to botch it so badly. But he has never said "I was wrong to lead the parade in support of that war."

10-17-2007, 06:50 AM
Yeah, Christopher Hitchens is no lefty. Part of my sees it as an attempt to salve his own conscience. This man has racism right through him if you any of his stuff on atheism.

But I take your point that some words can be very powerful, but I doubt that Hitchens, or anyone's writing, was this soldier, or any person's sole motivator, for going to war or doing anything.

There has to be material circumstances that drives people's decisions and I think writing can seal the deal if they put into words what a person is feeling.