Empty Days

Tuesday, July 20, 2004



Electric banana: meeting the Unabomber.

I don't know why I am doing this really but it feels like the right thing to do for some reason.

So I went and bought some more stuff on my long-suffering credit card - a real tent that I will return (it's too heavy) and a big sheet of some rough cargo tarp for cheap to use as a makeshift tent (I am still unsure how). But I need more stuff, like shoes etc to get going. Since I hate shopping I wasn't able to do it all at once.

I think what drives me is this new idea that I need to exercise my will even if it seems silly, hopeless and totally unreal. It doesn't matter - I better do it, because there is no good reason not to. The new awareness started with cyanide, continued with revenge vandalism, and is now evolving into backcountry escape. I think meeting the Unabomber in my mind (as a likeminded doer) was instrumental in the last two.

These are the ideas that's been eating at me forever - and I never did anything about it because I kept thinking it was too crazy. But on the other hand - maybe that's the right track for me, even if it leads exactly nowhere. The supposed alternative, the so-called "normal life", leads nowhere either - I had ample time to test just to what extent. So the only thing that's left is to exercise the semi-conscious will, the one that gives me all these ideas in the first place. The crazy element is that these ideas have no definite purpose - for instance, I have no idea why I need to go in the middle of nowhere and sit out rain under a piece of tarp: how is that interesting? Or what's interesting about pedalling for miles in strange surroundings going lord knows where. I just don't know why I want it.

***

I think I understand why the Unabomber had to spend all those years making bombs and killing random people. It sounds and looks insane, yet he only followed his original semi-conscious will which he rationalized in various ways (cf. Manifesto). He was alone and angry like hell. He had to get busy in his loneliness and that was the most congenial thing he could get busy with according to his will. It still sounds insane? Not to me. Anger is a good enough rationale.

What happens in solitude is that you are left one-on-one with nothing but your own will - and it can be anything. The more remote you become, the more the rules of the world cease to matter, and it is impossible to explain to other people to just what extent human rules don't matter anymore. The fact that the Unabomber was compelled to exercise his will in such an extreme, murderous way is perhaps insane - the measure of anger it betrays is overwhelming.

***

What moves me? The same desire for solitude - almost inhuman solitude. Solitude means complete freedom of will, absolutely purposeless in itself. Being an urban hermit is quite a bit of a perversion - the constant sight of so many people with whom you have absolutely nothing to do, this fake solitude supplied by anonymity, is only a muck-up of the real freedom that solitude affords. It is not a death-wish - it is a wish to be a law unto oneself. Perhaps this desire for solitude is the strongest form of will to power - only inverted, requiring complete hopelessness in regards to humanity, from which wilful hope is bound to be born.

What is left outside of the human world with its all-absorbing social struggles and myths? Nature, obviously. It's hardly a big surprise that those who crave solitude should crave the most depopulated country out there. This is not emptiness - Nature is swarming with life, even though this life is not human. It is the only alternative to human society and hermits are never really alone in that sense. Compared to this, urban hermits are the real perverts - denying themselves, fearing, holding back, remaining sickly attached to all that civilization of which they can't and won't partake. That's the suffering of unfulfilled loneliness: inability to break away.

Urban hermits are mostly suicides.

***

Here is an excerpt from Kaczynski's letter to his family, 1991:
"Suppose that for a period of years whenever you touched -- let us say -- a banana, you got a severe electric shock. After that you would always be nervous around bananas, even if you knew they weren't wired to shock you," he said. "Well, in the same way, the many rejections, humiliations and other painful influence that I underwent during adolescence at home, in high school, and at Harvard have conditioned me to be afraid of people."

Kaczynski revealed that he is "always under stress" whenever he is around people, except those he has known for a long time. The reason is that he doesn't feel that people will accept him.

"This fear of rejection -- based on bitter experience both at home and at school -- has ruined my life, except for the few years that I spent alone in the woods, largely out of contact with people," he wrote.
That's the only alternative - staying away from what ails you. Most hermits have no better reason to seek solitude than the inability to cope with the social world - whatever reasons are given or invented, this is always the most basic reason. Whether you go out into the desert to seek God or lions, you still mostly flee the proximity of other people. And that's that.

***

My other idea is that the particular predicament of Kaczynski that led to such a murderous career was the fact that he was tied to the small spot of bought land on which he built his cabin (1.4 acres). If the land on this continent was not all private, he could have chosen a place of utter wilderness where his respite from people would have been complete - he tried to immigrate to Canada but was refused. Hitler was refused at the art-school. The rest is history.

I think private land is a calamity - but the whole backbone of capitalism is predicated on land-property. Highly organized metropolia are concentrated expressions of that fundamental concept. The whole land is owned either by individuals or by government: for all the vast spaces, there is not a parcel left unaccounted for. Perhaps you need to move close to the North Pole to have some respite from this total control - and even there it's not quite sure that you won't be chase away by some lone ranger with a badge.

It's kind of strange, come to think of it.





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