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Several days ago, Lawrence Lessig, a friend and legal adviser for Aaron Swartz  released this statement regarding Aaron’s death (source):

(Some will say this is not the time. I disagree. This is the time when every mixed emotion needs to find voice.)

Since his arrest in January, 2011, I have known more about the events that began this spiral than I have wanted to know. Aaron consulted me as a friend and lawyer. He shared with me what went down and why, and I worked with him to get help. When my obligations to Harvard created a conflict that made it impossible for me to continue as a lawyer, I continued as a friend. Not a good enough friend, no doubt, but nothing was going to draw that friendship into doubt.

The billions of snippets of sadness and bewilderment spinning across the Net confirm who this amazing boy was to all of us. But as I’ve read these aches, there’s one strain I wish we could resist:

Please don’t pathologize this story.

No doubt it is a certain crazy that brings a person as loved as Aaron was loved (and he was surrounded in NY by people who loved him) to do what Aaron did. It angers me that he did what he did. But if we’re going to learn from this, we can’t let slide what brought him here.

First, of course, Aaron brought Aaron here. As I said when I wrote about the case (when obligations required I say something publicly), if what the government alleged was true — and I say “if” because I am not revealing what Aaron said to me then — then what he did was wrong. And if not legally wrong, then at least morally wrong. The causes that Aaron fought for are my causes too. But as much as I respect those who disagree with me about this, these means are not mine.

But all this shows is that if the government proved its case, some punishment was appropriate. So what was that appropriate punishment? Was Aaron a terrorist? Or a cracker trying to profit from stolen goods? Or was this something completely different?

Early on, and to its great credit, JSTOR figured “appropriate” out: They declined to pursue their own action against Aaron, and they asked the government to drop its. MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear, and so the prosecutor had the excuse he needed to continue his war against the “criminal” who we who loved him knew as Aaron.

Here is where we need a better sense of justice, and shame. For the outrageousness in this story is not just Aaron. It is also the absurdity of the prosecutor’s behavior. From the beginning, the government worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way. The “property” Aaron had “stolen,” we were told, was worth “millions of dollars” — with the hint, and then the suggestion, that his aim must have been to profit from his crime. But anyone who says that there is money to be made in a stash ofACADEMIC ARTICLES is either an idiot or a liar. It was clear what this was not, yet our government continued to push as if it had caught the 9/11 terrorists red-handed.

Aaron had literally done nothing in his life “to make money.” He was fortunate Reddit turned out as it did, but from his work building the RSS standard, to his work architecting Creative Commons, to his work liberating public records, to his work building a free public library, to his work supporting Change Congress/FixCongressFirst/Rootstrikers, and then Demand Progress, Aaron was always and only working for (at least his conception of) the public good. He was brilliant, and funny. A kid genius. A soul, a conscience, the source of a question I have asked myself a million times: What would Aaron think? That person is gone today, driven to the edge by what a decent society would only call bullying. I get wrong. But I also get proportionality. And if you don’t get both, you don’t deserve to have the power of the United States government behind you.

For remember, we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House — and where even those brought to “justice” never even have to admit any wrongdoing, let alone be labeled “felons.”

In that world, the question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a “felon.” For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept, and so that was the reason he was facing a million dollar trial in April — his wealth bled dry, yet unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge. And so as wrong and misguided and fucking sad as this is, I get how the prospect of this fight, defenseless, made it make sense to this brilliant but troubled boy to end it.

Fifty years in jail, charges our government. Somehow, we need to get beyond the “I’m right so I’m right to nuke you” ethics that dominates our time. That begins with one word: Shame.

One word, and endless tears.

First, my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Aaron Swartz. For those of you unaware, he was notable Hacktivist, Social Justice advocate, Web programmer (who helped with the early stages of the RSS standard), and co-founder of Reddit, proponent of Creative Commons and Free Software. Brilliant young man, and child prodigy.

He is also known for one other thing. Back in January 2011, Aaron was charged for illegally downloading millions of academic papers from academic databases. If he would be convicted (his trial wasn’t set to start until April 1st, 2013), he would potentially face 50 years behind bars. On Friday January 11th 2013, his body was found hanged in his apartment — Aaron would rather have taken his own life, than be forced to live the dismal life as a convict in the American prison system.

The decision for him to end his own life was extreme and shocking, no doubt — but even more extreme and shocking is the State’s handling of his supposed crime of downloading academic publications: Fifty years behind bars. Aaron was not a murderer, not a rapist, not a bank robber; he was not a drug dealer, he was not a terrorist, he was not a foreign spy. He did not join the Taliban and plot terrorist attacks against America in Afghanistan.

No.

Aaron’s  only crime was supposedly illegally downloading academic papersand we will see that he didn’t even do that— a man who smuggled the invaluable riches of Knowledge through dangerous lands of marauding, bloodthirsty, barbarous tribes of the Corporation, who wait by well-traveled roads with submachine guns and SWAT gear, ready punish anyone who brings such Knowledge without paying the toll-tax. Aaron was captured by one such barbarous tribe, and paraded humiliatingly in front of the Corporate Aristocrats’s tribunal like they’d finally caught some heretical leader of a rebellion: “WE GOT ‘EM! Fifty years for pirating books!”

Mainstream Media has been having a field day misconstruing this entire Aaron Swartz story.  Let me clear up a few things. First thing’s first, what exactly did Aaron do? He ran a script that mass downloaded academic papers from the academic paper database known as JSTOR — papers that were already freely accessibly to anyone with a guest account at MIT (and many other academic institutions throughout the world.) He did not hack into any accounts to access these files, he did not even download files illegally — no, everything he did was fully legal and within the Terms-of-Service of MIT and JSTOR. It is the equivalent of running a mass downloader to take already availiable free books from Project Gutenberg or pages from Wikipedia, or for taking out too many books at the library. (source)

The system administrator who discovered Aaron’s automated downloading on the MIT campus, upon noticing the laptop and the spike in web traffic, overreacted and jumped the gun, and performed no network tests to see what was actually going on (which isn’t hard to do if you’re a system administrator with total logs of all incoming and outgoing traffic, I can assure you — the moron couldn’t be bothered to run Packet Tracer!?!?) He merely accused Aaron of some diabolically evil hacking scheme, and called up Campus Police, who placed Aaron under arrest for cybercrime. The FBI had then been informed. Eventually, MIT and JTSOR dropped the charges — yes, JSTOR, the company that Aaron downloaded the papers from had dropped the chargesbut the FBI were still pushing for charges until the day Aaron died!

The Prosecution and the FBI were the ONLY ONES to push chargesnot MIT and not JSTOR, who understood Aaron to be doing everything entirely within the bounds of their own Terms of Service. The FBI and the Prosecution had been acting entirely on their own to paint Aaron — someone who legally downloaded academic papers with the later approval of JSTOR — as some kind of evil hacker seeking personal financial gain. MIT and JSTOR already dropped charges, and yet the FBI and Prosecution were pushing Aaron’s jail time for 50 years?

The FBI and the State Prosecution have GONE ROGUE — this is Vigilante Government, this is Big Government mustering together all of their corporate-state bestowed powers together in order to grasp at straws, and misdirect justice with their biases of Aaron as some kind of evil cyberterrorist for downloading too many free articles. Do the State Prosecution and FBI even know how actual cybercrime looks?

Because JSTOR and MIT chose to drop the charges against Aaron, the prosecution had to change their focus. They claimed he was acting for the purpose of financial gain — that he was going to supposedly sell these articles JSTOR already makes a available to anyone with an account. The Vigilante Government is grasping at straws to make their case somewhat plausible. Really, are you going to try to accuse a well-known Internet activist and philanthropist of profiteering from JSTOR papers — papers read by a handful of people for the duration of its internet shelf-life? That’s what your whole prosecution rests on? 50 years in prison for that?

This is proof the State is ignorant of how computers work, that the State is ignorant of how cybercrime actually operates, that the State is irrationally technophobic, and that the State is biased and misguided with its Draconian laws that only benefit the big corporations — yet we even see here the corporations involved didn’t even want that.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Rogue Vigilante State that will drain the West dry of any of its remaining innovation.

Where is the FBI in this pandemic of Email accounts getting hacked en masse daily for passwords, personal information, identity fraud, and credit card data? The State has no one’s interest in mind but the careers of anyone who can make it within its corrupt system.

In the Medieval Ages in Europe, after the collapse of the splendor that was Rome, and the plunder and destruction of the libraries , monasteries, and schools by barbarian tribes, and the rolling back of Europe to the Dark Ages, when the Middle-East and Asia were technologically far more advanced than Western Europe, people used to illegally bootleg and smuggle texts of philosophy, science, engineering, and medicine, from the Orient in order to enlighten their fellow man. Books were expensive, and a taxable commodity — prices that scientists and their patrons could not easily afford, and avoided as much as they could. Smugglers, scientists, and medieval technologists alike lived in fear of the reprisals of the Kings and the Church of what these new fruits of knowledge from the books meant for the world: how they would dramatically challenge the old Medieval ways of thinking, the old Theocratic status quo. Many such smugglers and intellectuals were hanged and burned at the stake, some were imprisoned, others got off with fines and house arrest.

Such smugglers and technologists of Progress is what Aaron Swartz in our 21st century equivalent context is (except for the fact that he hadn’t even stolen anything.)

Grieve as we do for the human price of Aaron’s tragic death, We have much to reflect on the meaning of his decision to download these millions of academic publications and spread them to enlighten the Masses as he has — to download millions of publications, which had previously been stuffed away in the recesses of the megalithic Ivory Tower, never to be seen anyone but a handful of specialists.

We have much to reflect on the meaning of the State’s decision to prosecute Aaron, to consider what he did worthy of 50 years behind bars inside of the American Gulag, and how that subsequently drove him to take his own life.

We have much to reflect on Newspeak words like Fraud and Theft in 21st century Corporate-controlled America, as mainstream media is accusing Aaron Swartz of doing by legally downloading too many academic papers.

And We have much to reflect on Aaron’s martyrdom at the ubiquitous tentacles of this Corporate Police State Empire that the United States is turning into. A Corporate Police State Empire, where so-called “Anti-Piracy Laws” like SOPA and PIPA, ACTA and DMCA, and “anti-Terrorism measures” of PATRIOT Act and and indefinite detection NDAA, and the flying unmanned aerial drones over the skies of America, are serving only to transform the United States into the world’s biggest Pirate and the biggest Terrorist, like something out of a really bad 1980s Sci-Fi dysopia film.

It’s funny how things always tend to turn into exactly the thing it is that they oppose.

As a rogue scholar and autodidact myself, let me enlighten you, my dear reader, on the nature of academic publications. The truth is, the vast majority of all academic publications — the vast majority of these millions of papers that Aaron downloaded — are read by an average of two to five people in the total span of their existence, if even. These publications are only accessible in tightly controlled database websites like JSTOR that require expensive subscriptions, or academic tuition (or tenure) to access. Or, they may be accessible inside of university libraries, which themselves require expensive memberships to access, often with a ridiculous list of restrictions for not being a part of the university. Trust me, I know, I’ve been there.

Access to these publications do not cater to the curious amateur, or to the ambitious self-(Internet)-taught autodidact, or to the rejected academic, or the independent scholar who is only slowed down by academic politics, or the recluse scientist who decides he is going to pursue his love of science despite being shunned by the academic community. Intelligence and Innovation are never measurements of how well someone can promote themselves, or how “nice” a person is — in fact, it’s often the exact opposite. In humility and prudence, the Scientist and the Intellectual often sell themselves short, often to the shun of the academic community, to the neglect of research grants, to crippling self-doubt that leads to the giving up of scientific pursuits altogether.

This kind of elitist, snobbish behavior by these corporate-academic databases to restrict access only to subscribing members is to say this: if you aren’t paying homage to our academic institution, if you aren’t in our elite club of academics, if you have no recognition in our institutions, then you’re a nobody. You  don’t deserve access to “our” publications. Get lost, go figure it out for yourself — or spend $20, 000 a year attending our university, taking courses in subjects you already know, so we can bless you approvingly with a meaningless piece of parchment paper.

Now, the academic authors who write such papers that Aaron purportedly “stole”, are people who have labored tirelessly over years, sometimes decades, carrying out the research, performing experiments to exactitude, reading up on what the other academics have written on the subject, and quadruple-checking it all, presenting their ideas to other academics who might care to listen to them (and usually don’t), and then finally writing the paper. Even if the content of these papers is truly groundbreaking, the chance that these papers will have a substantial impact on the academic community — or even  impact the public — is incredibly nill — unless you have connections.

These academics barely receive any recognition for their work, and receive little to no royalties for their papers. At best, these academics receive a little bit of recognition within the one tiny corner of the academic community they may actually have some standing in. It might help them find grants for future research. What business does a company like JSTOR or MIT have in restricting the public’s access to these groundbreaking science publications, if the authors aren’t even being compensated? What’s happening to those 98% of papers out there that aren’t featured in Nature or Science magazines, or on the big Science / Tech websites, because their impact is just not understood and casually glossed over by a science reporter? What the hell are they doing just rotting away on some database?

There’s another problem in science: REDUNDANCY. Most science that is done in the lab has already done, and only after the scientist has performed the experiment, do they realize it’s already been done. If this corporate-academic complex are just letting millions of these valuable academic papers rot away on some database, and refusing to hand them out because someone isn’t paying for a subscription, then how much are they HOLDING back scientific,  technological, medical, and human progress, with their corporate poll-taxing B.S.!?

What I mean to say is this: For every one of Einstein’s papers on Special and General Theory of Relativity published and receiving press, there were twenty that you’ve never even heard of. Twenty that we’ve never heard of: scientists who have had similar insights, who by random variance — perhaps the paucity of their academic institutions, perhaps the fact that they just weren’t ambitious enough, or maybe their papers weren’t read by the right people to get recognition for it — just didn’t quite experience the same success as Einstein had.

Gregor Mendel‘s (1822-1884) paper on Genetic Inheritance — the first to ever scientifically explore the nature of genetic inheritance — did not receive any recognition when it was published, and was rejected by the academia. It was not until 1900 — that is, *34* years after the publication, and long after Mendel was dead — that his work was “rediscovered” by accident as scientists were sifting through old publications. Mendel’s work, along with that of Charles Darwin, would lay the groundwork for the scientific discipline that we now call Genetics.

Imagine how much more readership — perhaps even patronage for his research — and how much further along would genetics research be! — would have Mendel had if he bootlegged his papers, and made them widely available among amateur, academic, and mad scientist alike? Or better yet, someone else to mass disseminate those papers. A bootlegger — a pirate of academic papers– someone like Aaron Swartz.

How many more Gregor Mendels are out there right now, whose papers won’t be read for another 34 years before they’ll have a lasting impact on the world — all just because the first impression of their paper was received poorly.

It’s also worth reflecting here on just how many scientists and academics past and present have relied on bootlegged manuscripts, pirated texts, and even outright stolen books, to perform work they would have been otherwise unable to afford or have access to. Some names from the past: Michael FaradayLouis PasteurIsaac NewtonAlbert Einstein. Albert Einstein himself worked in a patent office, and personally illegally bootlegged all patents that were of interest to him — patents , which unlike academic publications, are confidential, and it’s a serious breach of confidentiality to bootleg them. I wonder how many years behind bars someone like Albert Einstein would get nowadays under these laws in America for pulling off a stunt like that. 120 years, maybe more? Would he even have time to discover E=MC², with the Corporations and the Law breathing down his throat?

The charges levied against Aaron, and his subsequent suicide — really, murder by proxy by cruel hands of the institutional machine of the Corporate Police State — represents a disturbing trend towards the closing of the doors of innovation in the Western world, and most especially in the United States.

How many more of these laws will Corporations lobby for out from sheer paranoia and fear of grassroots trends toward the freedom of information and the spreading of self-education? How many more brilliant scientists, engineers and intellectuals is the State going to shun from society because they refuse to operate in the cliquish, narrow-mindedness of the academia, which is being transformed into little more than a corporate training center? How many more men like Aaron Swartz is the State and the Corporation going to prosecute and drive to suicide for spreading the Light of Knowledge to humanity?

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Madame Σinzige

Madame Einzige

Madame Einzige (Image by imorawetz )

We live in an age of illusionary freedom — where choice is reduced to the brand name; where the Corporation has taken the place of the Feudal Lord; where the wage has replaced indentured servitude in nothing but name.

The fate of Technology — the greatest capacity for individual empowerment, or for collective enslavement — perpetually redefines itself between these two extremities. This Age of Information still is yet to prove itself: is this an age of grassroots emancipation, or one big experiment in mass surveillance and control? It will be us, through both our action and inaction, on who this historical experiment takes place; it will be us who are the ones that will be doing the proving.

[…]

The State is the strongest it has ever been in human history — yet, also the subtlest. Its reach has conquered the entire world: every territory, every society, every venture, every single human being. We are the conquered, the occupied — we have been branded Citizens, subjects of this faceless, nameless entity — yet, many of us have learned to imitate and to love our conquerors; others have been trampled under the boot; even fewer of us have become powerful shareholders in the State. And the State continues to grow — sinking its mechanical tendrils into cyberspace, the gene code, and into the very fabric of space-time itself.

How shall we survive the suffocating weight of the State, and guard against the abuse of its mechanisms? To what is your dissent, against the corporate dynasties that oil the State’s cogs? To what is the maxim “well-armed populace is the best defense against tyranny”, against the Standing Army? To what is the firearm against the UAV-Drone?

If and only if the pen is mightier than the sword, then the keyboard is mightier than the combined nuclear force of the ICBM.

By the tragic consequence of Technology’s fate, we shall finally learn this: that Freedom is not about entitlement — to beseech the mercy, and ask for permission from the State to give you what Nature has already imbued in you. That Freedom is about empowerment — that Freedom is about doing it.

– Madame Einzige, The Aufhebung Manifesto

Madame Einzige is an upcoming novel series inspired by my studies in history, politics, social science, technology, psychology, philosophy, and religion, in which I have allowed my obsession with historical pattern and speculative imagination run wild.

It is a novel series, where religious theocracies weave the technologies of virtual-reality, cyberspace, and mass surveillance into their state-wide system of totalitarianism, in order to magnify the holy and majestic feelings with God and clergy; where disenfranchised, disillusioned, cyber-prosthetic U.S. veterans violently take up arms against a government that failed to re-integrate them into society and failed to uphold the values they risked their lives for; where socially neglected computer nerds and failed upstarts realize themselves as the medium through which democracy may defend itself — through hacktivism, and going beyond mere website vandalism to do it and discover the political empowerment of the personal computer.

Young U.S. Veterans throwing away their medals during protest. Historically, when discharged war veterans that have failed to be re-integrated into society, they have been the first to organize revolts against the State. Will the same happen to the United States in the 21st century?

It is a novel series where occult-obsessed mathematicians and computer scientists crunch combinatorial sets and sacred permutations in order to develop algorithms for self-aware, disembodied Artificial Intelligences that instantly prophecize the future from petabytes of data; where Western war vets and ideologues form Private Military Companies offering their services to warlords and dictators, and are paid in land, market-monopolies, drugs, and an exploitable labor force; where certain corporations, under the guise of anti-piracy (and knowing that most piracy actually takes place outside of Western nations) and faux-humanitarianism, attempt to wholly replace the personal computer in developing countries, by selling mass, nationwide Cloud-computing networks to these countries, enabling their governments to scan the Cloud for anyone deemed a dissident, criminal, revolutionary, or spy.

Topological Map of the “Backbone” of the Internet (click to enlarge, PDF) — how much is humanity’s presence on the Web an accurate portrayal of us? How much does your online presence accurately portray you? Can the sum of humanity’s recorded interactions with a computer really be used to predict our future?

Madame Einzige is storytelling in which reality and art, analysis and imagination, science and mythopoesis, narrative and reporting, blend seamlessly together. Art imitates life: life imitates art.

The Metamorphosis: From Marxist-Leninist Camel to Nietzschean Lion

The series follows the titular protagonist, Madame Einzige, who is a former Communist East German Nationale Volksarmee specialist. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and dissolution of Soviet-Communism, she has struggled and failed to find a way in the new post-Socialist world. She, like other East Germans, were ‘liberated’ (or annexed by the West, others have argued) from the DDR’s confines of Marxism-Leninism, Freie Deutsche Jugend, Cold War intrigue, STASI secret police, smuggled British rock records, Ampelmännchen pedestrian crossing lights, and Trabant cars–

Parade in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), 1989.

–into this charmingly decadent world of capitalism, personal automobiles, personal computers, shopping malls, MTV, Americanization, fast food, Hollywood, credit cards, “globalization” (or: corporate imperialism)–

Times Square, New York City

Surviving both the collapse of Soviet-Socialism, and the dramatic decline of Anglo-American Capitalism (both which curiously occurred during their respective invasions of Afghanistan), Madame Einzige moved from one failing system to another. Attempting to atone for her allegiance to the oppressive ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat‘ that existed in her native Communist East Germany, she gave the new Western system of democracy and Capitalism the benefit of the doubt, and embraced it at first.

But Capitalism quickly felt meaningless and alienating with its frenzied obsession with consumerism, fake promises of personal empowerment, and the mind-controllingly annoying advertisementsCapitalism was almost exactly what she imagined it was, having learned about it in her East Berlin school, only worse. Was she better off as a slave to the moralizing, collectivist ideology of the Marxist-Leninist State, or as a slave to vapid the materialism and time-wasted wage-earning of the Corporation?

Embittered, cynical, and barred from taking up any meaningful work in this new capitalist society of Europe because of her past involvement in the East German Dictatorship, she radically uprooted everything she had previously thought and felt about society and civilization. She saw things. Politicians hiding behind ideologies to garner support — the co-opting of popular protest by new ambitious elites — the bureaucratic kakistocracy and corruption that is fated to degenerate within barely a generation — “merit” that rewards the Noticeable, and not the Skilled — economies based off scarcity, its illusions, and unnecessary wants. As far as she was concerned, there was only one maxim any and all kinds of human social organization: the survival of self-interest. And how myopic, decadent, destructive, ignorant, ill-intended, base, and petty, the rabble’s self-interest is…

But self-interest it always was for humanity, self-interest it will always be. And what about those with more progressive, universal, benevolent, ‘altruistic’, enlightening interests? Yes, even those are self-interests by what else could those interests even survive, if humans didn’t invest their lives into them?

After trying her hand at so many post-Communist career paths, she realized that she only excelled at one thing — maybe the only thing she had the taste for — and one thing only: carrying out the State’s Monopoly on Violence. But now far be it for her to embrace the State or the Corporation as an enforcer (or “security contracts” they call them now), with what she had realized. On behalf of who or what would she be carrying out violence, now…?

“Durch die Worten des unsere Amerikaner Eroberern:
Jetzt gibst mir die Freiheit oder gibst mir Tod!!

The Child — Narration as Hyper-Reality: The Breaking the Forth Wall

“Hyperreality” is a state in which human cognition uses the filtering/mediation of a certain kind of reality-construct in order to navigate an experience. The “Hyperreal” feels more “real” than the thing itself.
Example: Hollywood as Hyperreality: Whenever many Western people experience something truly exhilarating, profound, and monumental impacting their own lives, a common response is: “this feels like a movie!” The simulated reality of the Hollywood blockbuster has become the filter through which many of us can make sense of the world.

Madame Einzige is speculative fiction — with firm grounding in history and social science, and not without disturbing plausibility. I wanted to create a novel series that portrays real social and political phenomena — exploring the diversity and multifacetedness of their deeper roots and causes, rather than haphazardly panning over these for a romanticized oversimplification, as is so often the case in fiction. Every character, no matter how obscure or commonplace, is a consequence of a greater historical and social context. No character exists in a void. No character is ex nihilo.

Technology, both the future of technology, and its history (expect to find a lot of retrocomputing in Madame E.!), is a major focus of the books. My focus is not on providing detailed descriptions of the gaudiness of new technology — it is on providing a stimulating, plausible, thought-provoking scenarios of Technology’s interfacing with its consequences on society, politics, economics, culture, biology, and psychology: and how it does so in unintended and unexpected ways. A specific technology’s deployment, appropriation, dissemination, and consequences, are also my concern. Having also worked in the tech sector myself, I am familiar with the cultures of technologists, the economics behind Information Technology, as well as the science and limitation of these technologies.

In approaching social and political conflict, Madame Einzige does not repeat the failures of humanitarian aid, foreign intervention, sanctions, incentives, as is also often the case in fiction — she is perfectly aware of them, calls them on their inefficiencies and destructiveness, and is often the one fighting them. Politics is about competing interests, and often about survival, not merely dogmatic-ideological adherence — and this is something that I have written carefully into my books.

The Heroine: A Knight-Errant for the 3rd Millennium?

Philosophers talk big. So much so, that often are they the biggest mother fucking badasses of the literary world. But seldom do they have the opportunity carry out their ideals. Even rarer, do they actually hold influence on leaders, policymakers, and enforcers, with which their philosophy is concerned. I’ve always wanted a character with that same intellectual cunning, biting sarcasm, boldness, and badassry of the philosopher, mixed with those very same traits of the epic hero.

Madame Einzige is exactly that. But she herself isn’t a mere mouthpiece of philosophy. She is an astute, active observer; a kind of pawn/knight of circumstance, convenience, and context. She is inclined toward DIY-libertarianism, virtue ethics, and the will to power, but she is not removed of her spontaneous, biological human nature to err, miscalculate, overextend, second-guess, biases, and failures. She is weary of dogmatism and the intellectual narrow-mindedness it brings (including dogma of science, atheism, and political ideology). She does not swear by anything but her own jugular vein.

Madame E is a mix of a kind of independent investigative journalist, private-eye, and when required, a paramilitary. You will see her blog-report on war veterans’ poverty and discontent over secured underground networks for hacktivists to chase, gather evidence to indict Western IT corporations for setting up surveillance systems in the post-Spring Middle-East, and participate first-hand in a rebellion in the oil-rich backwaters of Central Asia.

Warum ein Deutscher? (Why a German?)

The Germans occupy a very special path in modern history (no pun intended). Two World Wars, Nazism, supremacy in industry, economy, science, and technology, a history of militarism, nationalism, key contributions to philosophy, psychology, the arts. The last of the great Anglo-American “hot” wars for global supremacy. Ground-zero of the Cold War between East vs. West and Communism vs. Capitalism. And now the weight Germany is feeling from the expansion of the Eurozone.

To our modern narratives, the Germans represent the pinnacle of  a modernity, Western, civilization, industrialism, and science, all gone horribly wrong — a big part of our Reductio ad Nazium creation-myth of defining what a democracy is and isn’t. Of course, what disturbs us is that the same country that gave us Bach, Goethe, and the Volkswagen also gave us two World Wars and the Holocaust.

“Kollektivschuld der Deutschen” (Collective Guilt of the German People) Germany portrayed as a monk performing self-flagellation to vindicate their collective guilt.

Germans in real life are well aware of their dark legacy. Because of the collective guilt Germans are constantly bombarded with (the peak of the white-man’s guilt), they ironically have blossomed into some of the fiercest proponents of democracy, liberty, rights to privacy, protecting individual freedoms, political non-intervention, welfare, social justice, and other such things. (On the other hand, the Germans also seem to have some of the highest levels of political antipathy in the world — please note that what this video calls “apathy” (not caring) is actually “antipathy” (realistic approach to government bullshit and refusing to participate in it))

…But a woman?

My choice of Madame Einzige’s gender is conscious decision, situated right at heart of feminism, gender questions, and women’s liberation. (Although Mannzige may make a cameo in a future novel.)

Abortion is an issue where an ultimately private matter has become a heated moral-political issue, which is now entirely mediated by the state. The fact that a law must be passed in order to permit or to ban the practice, is an example of the State holding itself supreme. Must the resolving of women’s issues require the approval/blessing of the State?

This choice goes deeper than merely providing a female presence or perspective — as if to fill some sort of women’s quota in order to wishfully validate the perception of gender equality and women’s issues. Madame Einzige goes much, much deeper.

Madame Einzige is born out of the programme of female empowerment, especially with regard to Woman, State, and Civilization. To what extent must women rely on the benevolence of the State — the institutions of policy-making, laws, enforcement, bursaries, and punishment — to safeguard her place and interests? Are women vulnerable without the existence of the State? What about the Family, and lovers? How has the State co-opted the political support of women to strengthen its own position? Have women’s interests inadvertently been hijacked into becoming agents and enforcers of State power?

For Madame Einzige, if feminism is about female empowerment, then, like all great powers (to quote a familiar cliche I’m rather fond of), comes great responsibility, and owning up to one’s actions. If that responsibility — just like that empowerment — merely falls on the State, then what kind of position does that leave women in, but perpetuating State-dependency, State-intervention, and seeking State-validation? Must women’s self-interests and empowerment continually refer itself up to a higher authority, as it was under Patriarchy? Madame E is the embodiment of “No” to that question — woman, like man, can be the end in herself.

“To Spring from the Mind”: Influences and Origins

Max Stirner: “Sacred things exist only for the egoist who does not acknowledge himself: the involuntary egoist. He is always looking after his own, and yet does not count himself as the highest being; he serves only himself, and at the same time always thinks he is serving a higher being; he knows nothing higher than himself, and yet is infatuated by something higher… He debases himself only for the sake of ‘being exalted’, and therefore gratifying his egoism.”

(Section to be expanded in the future)

I love science, history, philosophy, technology, and a plethora of other subjects, sure, but when it comes to bringing these serious subjects to fiction, there tend to be an oversimplification for the sake of getting on with the story, rather than truly being written for the sake of there being a story to begin with. (*Not always though, there are some excellent philosophical-fiction writers.) I understand that this is the case for mass appeal, but it isn’t to my taste.

It is time to bring these subjects out of the lecture hall, out of overly expensive academic publications, and out of the memories of “oh, I remember learning that in college! Now I forgot it all!”, into the public aesthetic-cultural matrix. And with the increased exposure and widespread mass availability of such ideas (cf. the success of TED and Khan Academy), this certainly seems to be trend already. We’re adapting on a mass scale to be more receptive and curious of cosmopolitan, universal, big ideas, and Madame Einzige will play its role in this.

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