Christopher Hitchens, every conservative theist’s favorite atheist, was a masterful writer. What one loses when a good writer dies is a piece of the future. Life goes on without you. Wouldn’t it be enlightening, to say the least, to know what Mr. Hitchens might have written about, just to pick at random one prickly current event, the recent loss of the United States’ most advanced drone to Iran? Now that his voice has been stilled, we shall never have the piece in hand. Others, no doubt, will take up the slack, but a valuable slant on things, what Soren Kierkegaard used to call “a point of view,” is now lost – because the viewer is irretrievably lost.
“To philosophize,” Miguel de Montaigne said, “is to learn how to die.” Montaigne invented the essay; Hitchens perfected it.