When school cranks up again in a few weeks, UNLV Professor Gregory Borchard will teach a class keyed to the work of Hunter S. Thompson, the large-living, charismatic author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and other books. CityLife staffer Launce Rake interviewed Borchard for the Aug. 8 edition of the paper; here's a brief preview:
Hunter Thompson is, for some, a champion of drug and alcohol abuse. Any concern that your students, or outsiders, might view the class as an endorsement of a dangerous lifestyle?
I was concerned about that. … I would say to them, Look, if you think Thompson’s book is simply a glorification of the lifestyle, you’re dead wrong. He would say so too. If you miss the story and the style in the book in exchange for just the hallucinations, you miss the whole point. That’s not why he put it together. Thompson’s family members -- they want him to be remembered as a great wordsmith, not as a whacked lunatic on mescaline.
Despite his deserved reputation as a drug and alcohol abuser, Thompson was quite critical of the Summer of Love generation for getting high while abandoning the political convictions of the New Left and the artistic aspirations of the Beats. What would he think of today’s generation of college students?
Thompson probably would see two sides of this generation. They’re in a tough spot. This generation specifically, the gang coming out of college in the past three or four years, have had it about as rough as anything that we’ve seen since the Great Depression. But he would probably also see the shallow and stupid of our time, the video games and reality television. He would appreciate the difficulty and the challenges currently facing folks younger than you and me, but at the same time I doubt that he would see much room for hope. It’s really tough to be optimistic, especially these days. I don’t think Thompson would be optimistic at all.