Sunday, February 23, 2014


Gian Paul Lozza for The Guardian

This afternoon, under the covers with the dark closing in, I read Andrew O'Hagan's startling piece in the LRB about ghostwriting Julian Assange's autobiography.

My god, the weirdness. The wanting things. The not wanting things. The obliviousness and the bewilderment and the terror of exposure and the not wanting to know, the force of not-really-politics, persecution, narcissism, entirely unwrangled power boxed up in the thoughts of others unthought.

Staggering matter-of-factness from O'Hagan, the uncomplicated knowledge of self, the glass-like ping of identity. Simplicity klaxon, I am a writer. I write things down, tape-recorder, pencils, laptop. I ask questions, and you say things. Later I will have written down what you said when you say you didn't say those things, that you aren't that person, that you didn't mean it, that you were tired. I am trying to see how things are, even if how things are is only how things seem to you.

But Assange would not tell him even how being Assange seemed.

I too have a twinging autobiographical cramp, a flinch from what is true. I don't want anyone to know that I am weak and frightened and spoiled and selfish and full of shame and failure and opportunities abandoned and unthreatening, mealy-mouthed safehouses pursued.

You don't have to tell anyone these things. But you have to know about them when you are writing about other things, because they breathe the same air. Your broken, shrill, unforgiving moments stand there right next to the time you saw the otter crunching up the fish in Thetford and you cannot see the pink inside of his mouth and the clockwork click-flickering, bright-white needles of his teeth, the fisherman who carefully brought up his line and offered a worm, unless you also see the sticky, snotty, over-entitled faces of every tantrum you have ever thrown.  

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