For the last two weeks we've been tweeting daily quotes from our book on Hunter S Thompson, Gonzo Republic: Hunter S Thomspon's America to celebrate its publication. They have varied from wild and rude to insightful, prescient and moving. Below is a collection of our favourite Hunter S Thompson quotes, taken from the great man himself and also from the author of the book William Stephenson – we'd love to know your favourite!
HST on his Gonzo writing: 'It was like falling down an elevator shaft and landing in a pool full of mermaids'
'I’m a fan of reality. Truth is easier. And weirder. And funnier. Not all the time, but you can fall back on the truth' HST
'It'll be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fuelled by religious hatred & led by merciless fanatics on both sides' HST’s immediate reaction to the atrocities on 9/11
'Thompson did not simply impose himself on reality and then record this on the page: he created himself in and through his fictions.' William Stephenson
'You can either impose yourself on reality and then write about it, or you can impose yourself on reality by writing' HST
'A word to the wise is infuriating.' HST
HST on Nixon: ‘a cheap thug, a congenital liar’, ‘a half-mad used-car salesman'
HST on Ronald Reagan as California governor: 'a grinning whore who'll probably someday be President'
'Wordsworth was neither a journalist nor a recreational drug user, and his writing was vastly different from Thompson’s. Nevertheless, Gonzo might be read as Romanticism updated for the twentieth-century world of Nixon, LSD and television. Beneath his self-criticism and his streetwise cynicism, ‘Thompson adhered to the Romantic template of the visionary capable of ‘the unaccountable flight of spontaneous genius ’ (Berlin, 1999, p. 6)… Thus in creating Gonzo as a vehicle for his individualist, humanist project, Thompson had allowed himself to inherit something of the sensibility of the late eighteenth century' William Stephenson
'All political power comes from the barrel of either guns, or opium pipes and people seem to like it that way' HST
'Thompson knew that the American Dream was – or rather, ought to have been – based on a far nobler ideal than the capitalists myth that anyone could get rich through hard work.' William Stephenson
HST assessed the United States-led Grenada invasion in 1983 as: 'one of those low-risk, high-gain, cost-plus operations that every West Point graduate dreams of. […] Bash the buggers silly; bomb the insane; walk heavy, talk wild, and kick ass in every direction'
'He engaged with politics not only in order to control his environment, meaning to carve out a territory relatively free of official interference, but also to allow himself unhindered access to the one space where he could best attempt to build a new subjectivity free from the models offered by the state.' William Stephenson
In 1977, Thompson made it clear that Duke and Gonzo’s fruitless search for the American Dream in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was a metonym for his generation’s failed quest: 'There are worse ways to spend your life than chasing the American dream. But once you’ve found it […] it is generally just a slab of burned-out concrete in Las Vegas called the old Psychiatrist’s Club'
'Buy the ticket, take the ride' HST
Thompson shortly before he committed suicide: 'Football Season is Over. No More Games. […] 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring'
'Gonzo writing was born of spontaneous outrage, fuelled by chemicals and manifested in a decentred, broken-down prose of loose grammar and scattergun syntax, holed by ellipses and fractured by sudden jumps in perspective or subject matter. It allowed Thompson’s quest for freedom to find expression not just in what he wrote, but in how he wrote it. He flouted the conventions of journalism and fiction and violated the rules of syntax in order not only to represent drugged consciousness, but also to subvert the premises of the state…’ William Stephenson
'I haven’t found a drug yet that can get you anywhere near as high as sitting at a desk writing, trying to imagine a story no matter how bizarre it is' HST
‘Like the transcendentalists who came before him, Thompson sought to make history rather than be made by it. The blank page offered Thompson the widest and most fertile uncharted space he could ever know, a terra incognita that, unlike the long-vanished geographical frontier, could never be fenced off, subdivided and neutralized by a state-imposed ‘ closure of the map ’ (Bey, 2003, p. 100). Although not physically dangerous, composition always posed the risk of literary death through failure or burnout. It was, then, a form of edgework: together the typewriter and the page created a liminal zone between achievement and oblivion.’ William Stephenson