A bunch of us are reading David Graeber’s Debt. In the course of preparing for our upcoming discussion, I started re-reading that amazing resource: Crooked Timber.
That reminded me that Aaron Swartz wrote a couple guest posts on Crooked Timber. I reread one of his essays. Then another. Then more. You can guess what happened next. DANG. What an amazing writer. What a thinker.
There’s no one I’ve met in my life that I was so sure would change the course of history. No one I’ve met that was so obviously, even qualitatively, smarter than me. For a while, it felt like every big project I joined, or every cool thing I tried, he was there first, and happened to (sometimes co-)found it.
I think about Aaron all the time. Even now, years later.
For a long time, he was my role model: clear moral compass, brilliant, a tech genius but at the same time rooted in movement work and so much more than “the computer guy”.
It’s weird when your role model used to be your boss, is the brother of a friend, the ex of your boss. It’s weird to have this role model be a real person.
I was so angry when he died. I went on, well, a rampage, for the next few years. I never forgave Obama, Eric Holder, Carmen Ortiz, Steve Heymann, MIT, and the Democratic Party in general. I talked about it as part of my personal life story on dates, organizing 1-1’s, etc. I grew close to the angry wing of the radical left. I traveled the country. I took jobs based on what I felt he would have wanted me to do. When I played role-playing games, I would make a character named “Aharon Schahor” to try to process things.
I still get angry about his death. I still tell people about it. I still tell people about how important he was to me. Friends, acquaintances, even strangers who happen catch me in a particular mood.
Once, to my horror and embarrassment, I realized that one of those strangers was his brother. Oops! Sorry Noah. I seriously didn’t know.
Sidebar — Babbling about Aaron helped a friend introduce me to Mek, though, so overall the “talk about your feelings” seems to be working for me.
I’m still mad.
PS — And of course, Chris Dodd, that scumbag, the villain in the SOPA/PIPA fight that Aaron won for us; Chris Dodd, who flat out lied about his revolving door plans; Christopher J “Waitress Sandwich” Dodd — that’s the guy that Biden is tapping to lead his VP search.