I've always been tremendously frustrated by how difficult it is to make a coherent fiction out of hit points...but I also think they're inevitable. I've tried a lot of alternate systems and found most of them to be wanting in one way or another. WP/VP, for instance, strikes me as just being hit points under another name. If you were to remove the thing where crits go straight to WP (which, as has been pointed out by a number of posters already, undermines VP's role as the buffer between you and actual damage), all it really does is fix the point at which "damage" is actually damage
rather then leaving it floating around, without really solving any of the issues with HP (healing and poison, for instance, still make absolutely no sense). Systems that use a small number of hit points and use DR or luck points or something to increase survivability don't really provide a reliable barrier against harm, and don't work well (in my experience) with DnD's zero-to-hero-to-superhero arc (though they may be great for other games).
That oft-quoted passage from the 1e DMG seems like a case in point to me. On the one hand, I think that passage means a lot less then it's generally imputed to mean. Maybe Gygax intended hit points to represent bundled meat/luck/skill/divine favor, but the game he actually released treats them as meat points in it's mechanics and terminology. A few paragraphs in the DMG don't outweigh how the game actually acts when played. If this weren't true, we wouldn't still be arguing about this. At the same time, it's hard to see what else he should have done. Hit points are such a good game mechanic that their destructive effect on fiction is something we're forced to rationalize away, just as Gygax was.
What I've started doing is trying to use one of the worst aspects of hit points--that they're such a vague and leaky abstraction--to my advantage in terms of widening the kinds of characters the system can support. Right now I'm playing a Cambion in a Planescape game, represented as Teifling + Barbarian/Path of the Beast, with the class and subclass refluffed to represent a demonic physiology. If another member of the party takes eight points of damage from a sword thrust, they parried at the last second and avoided most of the blow. If she does, she got stabbed in the chest--which mainly has the effect of pissing her off. And her wound will,
quite literally, heal overnight.
For all their failings, the abstract nature of hitpoints lets me play distaff Hellboy in a party that's otherwise at a normal human level of bodily durability. I've considered DMing an entire campaign this way, where all PCs are demigods or immortals of some kind, without changing any of the rules at all.
Basically, if we didn't have hit points, we'd be forced to invent them. They are wonderful and terrible, simultaneously. Which is extremely on-brand.