Reading over a writer’s account of her brief acquaintance with the late Christopher Hitchens, it struck me that the first problem of an atheist is that he is bound to be a lonely person. Hitchens, of course, was temperamentally lonely: so irascible by nature, so little prone to give his fellow men credit for virtue, that he was bound to isolation. Those whom he got along best with seem to have shared his critical personality and, even more tellingly, seem to have spent little time with him. A dedicated iconoclast is a dangerous person to befriend.
My right there is none to dispute;
From the centre all round to the sea
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
O Solitude! where are the charms
That sages have seen in thy face?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
Than reign in this horrible place.
I am out of humanity’s reach,
I must finish my journey alone,
Never hear the sweet music of speech;
I start at the sound of my own.