Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fear And Loathing At Owl Farm aka If Dr. Gonzo Had Been A Blogger

I've been reading Fear and Loathing in America - The Brutal Odyssey Of An Outlaw Journalist.

This collection of Hunter S. Thompson letters, most which he wrote, is extraordinary. In these pages you see the spark of genius that evolved to become what is known as Gonzo Journalism.

It's irrelevant whether you are a fan of Thompson or dismiss his work as irrelevant. To take a position shows the significance of the man.

This collection of letters begins after the publication of Hell's Angels and runs through the period of Thompson's life that resulted in the publication of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 and The Great Shark Hunt.
"I figure my basic education is just about complete now...& I'm ready for The Main Crank. Kilroy died a long time ago. When the graffiti freaks start getting it on 10 years from now (or even 5) I'd like to think they'll be writing 'Thompson was here.'."
- Hunter S. Thompson
{page 500}

At the time the blogosphere was evolving, The Good Doctor was cranking out a weekly column for ESPN.com. How different things could have been if Thompson was blogging as the sun rose over Owl Farm.

Reading Thompson's letters you can imagine what his blog could have been like. That said, one thing Dr. Gonzo's site would never have been is boring.

I draw this conclusion from a letter of 4 August, 1969 {page 202}. A portion of that letter reads...
"I use letters, now and then, as drafts for later things --- test runs, of a sort --- and I suspect that's what I'm doing now. "
- Hunter S. Thompson

In another letter, from January 8, 1970 {page 251}...
"And that's about it for now --- seeing 3 pages in the till --- I have to wonder at another night gone down the tube. What makes a man write letters, night after night, instead of profitable manuscript pages?"
- Hunter S. Thompson

About a dozen pages into the book I knew I would have to post on this. When I found the Kilroy comment it was clearly a message to get started.

In 509 pages I've selected about 60 passages to post. Another 230 pages to go, stay tuned.


Marion said...

All those diaries and letters from writers in the past...they would be bloggers today.

I used to write letters, often as a way to flesh out my ideas that would later evolve into a story. After I started blogging, I have largely discontinued letter writing.

Good point, Kilroy!

bulletholes said...

Yeah, what Marion says....
I find that many of my Emails serve as catalysts for posts...even to the point of being rough drafts...I think there is no greater way to get perspective than on a person to person level...at least for folks like me...we aren't Writers/Autrhors per se, just plain folks trying to be better spoken than we otherwise would have been.
It is comfoting to know that even a guy like Thompson seemed to use the same method on a professinal level that have stumbled onto on a personal one.

Cheers Kilroy!

RS Wing said...

In my opinion, those books of letters were some of his greatest works. He destined himself for notoriety as a true journalist.