(FC) Two Cabins by JB

A.R.T. Press

Edited by Julie Ault


Henry David Thoreau

This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore. I go and come with a strange liberty in Nature, a part of herself. As I walk along the stony shore of the pond in my shirt-sleeves, though it is cool as well as cloudy and windy, and I see nothing special to attract me, all the elements are unusually congenial to me. The bullfrogs trump to usher in the night, and the note of the whip-poor-will is borne on the rippling wind from over the water. Sympathy with the fluttering alder and poplar leaves almost takes away my breath; yet, like the lake, my serenity is rippled but not ruffled. These small waves raised by the evening wind are as remote from storm as the smooth reflecting surface. Though it is now dark, the wind still blows and roars in the wood, the waves still dash, and some creatures lull the rest with their notes. The repose is never complete. The wildest animals do not repose, but seek their prey now; the fox, and skunk, and rabbit, now roam the fields and woods without fear. They are Nature’s watchmen,—links which connect the days of animated life.

When I return to my house I find that visitors have been there and left their cards, either a bunch of flowers, or a wreath of evergreen, or a name in pencil on a yellow walnut leaf or a chip. They who come rarely to the woods take some little piece of the forest into their hands to play with by the way, which they leave, either intentionally or accidentally. One has peeled a willow wand, woven it into a ring, and dropped it on my table. I could always tell if visitors had called in my absence, either by the bended twigs or grass, or the print of their shoes, and generally of what sex or age or quality they were by some slight trace left, as a flower dropped, or a bunch of grass plucked and thrown away, even as far off as the railroad, half a mile distant, or by the lingering odor of a cigar or pipe. Nay, I was frequently notified of the passage of a traveller along the highway sixty rods off by the scent of his pipe.

There is commonly sufficient space about us. Our horizon is never quite at our elbows. The thick woods is not just at our door, nor the pond, but somewhat is always clearing, familiar and worn by us, appropriated and fenced in some way, and reclaimed from Nature. For what reason have I this vast range and circuit, some square miles of unfrequented forest, for my privacy, abandoned to me by men? My nearest neighbor is a mile distant, and no house is visible from any place but the hill-tops within half a mile of my own. I have my horizon bounded by woods all to myself; a distant view of the railroad where it touches the pond on the one hand, and of the fence which skirts the woodland road on the other. But for the most part it is solitary where I live as on the prairies. It is as much Asia or Africa as New England. I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself. At night there was never a traveller passed my house, or knocked at my door, more than if I were the first or last man; unless it were in the spring, when at long intervals some came from the village to fish for pouts,—they plainly fished much more in the Walden Pond of their own natures, and baited their hooks with darkness,—but they soon retreated, usually with light baskets, and left “the world to darkness and to me,” and the black kernel of the night was never profaned by any human neighborhood. I believe that men are generally still a little afraid of the dark, though the witches are all hung, and Christianity and candles have been introduced.

Yet I experienced sometimes that the most sweet and tender, the most innocent and encouraging society may be found in any natural object, even for the poor misanthrope and most melancholy man. There can be no very black melancholy to him who lives in the midst of Nature and has his senses still. There was never yet such a storm but it was /Eolian music to a healthy and innocent ear. Nothing can rightly compel a simple and brave man to a vulgar sadness. While I enjoy the friendship of the seasons I trust that nothing can make life a burden to me. The gentle rain which waters my beans and keeps me in the house today is not drear and melancholy, but good for me too. Though it prevents my hoeing them, it is of far more worth than my hoeing. If it should continue so long as to cause the seeds to rot in the ground and destroy the potatoes in the low lands, it would still be good for the grass on the uplands, and, being good for the grass, it would be good for me. Sometimes, when I compare myself with other men, it seems as if I were more favored by the gods than they, beyond any deserts that I am conscious of; as if I had a warrant and surety at their hands which my fellows have not, and were especially guided and guarded. I do not flatter myself, but if it be possible they flatter me. I have never been lonesome, or in the least oppressed by a sense of solitude, but once, and that was a few weeks after I came to the woods, when, for an hour, I doubted if the near neighborhood of man was not essential to a serene and healthy life. To be alone was something unpleasant. But I was at the same time conscious of a slight insanity in my mood, and seemed to foresee my recovery. In the midst of a gentle rain while these thoughts prevailed, I was suddenly sensible of such sweet and beneficent society in Nature, in the very pattering of the drops, and in every sound and sight around my house, an infinite and unaccountable friendliness all at once like an atmosphere sustaining me, as made the fancied advantages of human neighborhood insignificant, and I have never thought of them since. Every little pine needle expanded and swelled with sympathy and befriended me. I was so distinctly made aware of the presence of something kindred to me, even in scenes which we are accustomed to call wild and dreary, and also that the nearest of blood to me and humanest was not a person nor a villager, that I thought no places could ever be strange to me again.—

“Mourning untimely consumes the sad;

Few are their days in the land of the living,

Beautiful daughter of Tosca.”

Some of my pleasantest hours were during the long rain-storms in the spring or fall, which confined me to the house for the afternoon as well as the forenoon, soothed by their ceaseless roar and pelting; when an early twilight ushered in a long evening in which many thoughts had time to take root and unfold themselves. In those driving northeast rains which tried the village houses so, when the maids stood ready with mop and pail in front entries to keep the deluge out, I sat behind my door in my little house, which was all entry, and thoroughly enjoyed its protection. In one heavy thunder-shower the lightning struck a large pitch pine across the pond, making a very conspicuous and perfectly regular spiral groove from top to bottom, an inch or more deep, and four or five inches wide, as you would groove a walking-stick. I passed it again the other day, and was struck with awe on looking up and beholding that mark, now more distinct than ever, where a terrific and resistless bolt came down out of the harmless sky eight years ago. Men frequently say to me, “I should think you would feel lonesome down there, and want to be nearer to folks, rainy and snowy days and nights especially.” I am tempted to reply to such,—This whole earth which we inhabit is but a point in space. How far apart, think you, dwell the two most distant inhabitants of yonder star, the breadth of whose disk cannot be appreciated by our instruments? Why should I feel lonely? is not our planet in the Milky Way? This which you put seems to me not to be the most important question. What sort of space is that which separates a man from his fellows and makes him solitary? I have found that no exertion of the legs can bring two minds much nearer to one another. What do we want most to dwell near to? Not to many men surely, the depot, the post-office, the bar-room, the meeting-house, the school-house, the grocery, Beacon Hill, or the Five Points, where men most congregate, but to the perennial source of our life, whence in all our experience we have found that to issue, as the willow stands near the water and sends out its roots in that direction. This will vary with different natures, but this is the place where a wise man will dig his cellar.... I one evening overtook one of my townsmen, who has accumulated what is called “a handsome property,”—though I never got a fair view of it,—on the Walden road, driving a pair of cattle to market, who inquired of me how I could bring my mind to give up so many of the comforts of life. I answered that I was very sure I liked it passably well; I was not joking. And so I went home to my bed, and left him to pick his way through the darkness and the mud to Brighton,—or Bright- town,—which place he would reach some time in the morning.

Any prospect of awakening or coming to life to a dead man makes indifferent all times and places. The place where that may occur is always the same, and indescribably pleasant to all our senses. For the most part we allow only outlying and transient circumstances to make our occasions. They are, in fact, the cause of our distraction. Nearest to all things is that power which fashions their being. Next to us the grandest laws are continually being executed. Next to us is not the workman whom we have hired, with whom we love so well to talk, but the workman whose work we are.

”How vast and profound is the influence of the subtile powers of Heaven and of Earth!”

”We seek to perceive them, and we do not see them; we seek to hear them, and we do not hear them; identified with the substance of things, they cannot be separated from them.”

”They cause that in all the universe men purify and sanctify their hearts, and clothe themselves in their holiday garments to offer sacrifices and oblations to their ancestors. It is an ocean of subtile intelligences. They are everywhere, above us, on our left, on our right; they environ us on all sides.”

We are the subject of an experiment which is not a little interesting to me. Can we not do without the society of our gossips a little while under these circumstances,—have our own thoughts to cheer us? Confucius says truly, “Virtue does not remain as an abandoned orphan; it must of necessity have neighbors.”

With thinking we may be beside ourselves in a sane sense. By a conscious effort of the mind we can stand aloof from actions and their consequences; and all things, good and bad, go by us like a torrent. We are not wholly involved in Nature. I may be affected by a theatrical exhibition; on the other hand, I may not be affected by an actual event which appears to concern me much more. I only know myself as a human entity; the scene, so to speak, of thoughts and affections; and am sensible of a certain doubleness by which I can stand as remote from myself as from another. However intense my experience, I am conscious of the presence and criticism of a part of me, which, as it were, is not a part of me, but a spectator, sharing no experience, but taking note of it, and that is no more I than it is you. When the play, it may be the tragedy, of life is over, the spectator goes his way. I was a kind of fiction, a work of the imagination only, so far as he was concerned. This doubleness may easily make us poor neighbors and friends sometimes.

I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will. Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows. The really diligent student in one of the crowded hives of Cambridge College is as solitary as a dervish in the desert. The farmer can work alone in the field or the woods all day, hoeing or chopping, and not feel lonesome, because he is employed; but when he comes home at night he cannot sit down in a room alone, at the mercy of his thoughts, but must be where he can “see the folks,” and recreate, and, as he thinks, remunerate himself for his day’s solitude: and hence he wonders how the student can sit alone in the house all night and most of the day without ennui and “the blues” but he does not realize that the student, though in the house, is still at work in his field, and chopping in his woods, as the farmer in his, and in turn seeks the same recreation and society that the latter does, though it may be a more condensed form of it.

Society is commonly too cheap. We meet at very short intervals, not having had time to acquire any new value for each other. We meet at meals three times a day, and give each other a new taste of that musty cheese that we are. We have had to agree on a certain set of rules, called etiquette and politeness, to make this frequent meeting tolerable and that we need not come to open war. We meet at the post-office, and at the sociable, and about the fireside every night; we live thick and are in each other’s way, and stumble over one another, and I think that we thus lose some respect for one another. Certainly less frequency would suffice for all important and hearty communications. Consider the girls in a factory,— never alone, hardly in their dreams. It would be better if there were but one inhabitant to a square mile, as where I live. The value of a man is not in his skin, that we should touch him.

I have heard of a man lost in the woods and dying of famine and exhaustion at the foot of a tree, whose loneliness was relieved by the grotesque visions with which, owing to bodily weakness, his diseased imagination surrounded him, and which he believed to be real. So also, owing to bodily and mental health and strength, we may be continually cheered by a like but more normal and natural society, and come to know that we are never alone.

I have a great deal of company in my house; especially in the morning, when nobody calls. Let me suggest a few comparisons, that some one may convey an idea of my situation. I am no more lonely than the loon in the pond that laughs out loud, or than Walden Pond itself. What company has that lonely lake, I pray? And yet it has not the blue devils, but the blue angels in it, in the azure tint of its waters. The sun is alone, except in thick weather, when there sometimes appear to be two, but one is a mock sun. God is alone,—but the devil, he is far from being alone; he sees a great deal of company; he is legion. I am no more lonely than a single mullein or dandelion in a pasture, or a bean leaf, or sorrel, or a horse-fly, or a bumblebee. I am no more lonely than the Mill Brook, or a weathercock, or the north star, or the south wind, or an April shower, or a January thaw, or the first spider in a new house.

I have occasional visits in the long winter evenings, when the snow falls fast and the wind howls in the wood, from an old settler and original proprietor, who is reported to have dug Walden Pond, and stoned it, and fringed it with pine woods; who tells me stories of old time and of new eternity; and between us we manage to pass a cheerful evening with social mirth and pleasant views of things, even without apples or cider,—a most wise and humorous friend, whom I love much, who keeps himself more secret than ever did Goffe or Whalley; and though he is thought to be dead, none can show where he is buried. An elderly dame, too, dwells in my neighborhood, invisible to most persons, in whose odorous herb garden I love to stroll sometimes, gathering simples and listening to her fables; for she has a genius of unequalled fertility, and memory runs back farther than mythology, and she can tell me the original of every fable, and on what fact every one is founded, for the incidents occurred when she was young. A ruddy and lusty old dame who delights in all weathers and seasons, and is likely to outlive all her children yet.

The indescribable innocence and beneficence of Nature,—of sun and wind and rain, of summer and winter,—such health, such cheer, they afford forever! and such sympathy have they ever with our race, that all Nature would be affected, and the sun’s brightness fade, and the winds would sigh humanely, and the clouds rain tears, and the woods shed their leaves and put on mourning in midsummer, if any man should ever for a just cause grieve. Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself?

What is the pill which will keep us well, serene, contented? Not my or thy great-grandfather’s, but our great-grandmother Nature’s universal, vegetable, botanic medicines, by which she has kept herself young always, outlived so many old Parrs in her day, and fed her health with their decaying fatness. For my panacea, instead of one of those quack vials of a mixture dipped from Acheron and the Dead Sea, which come out of those long shallow black-schooner looking wagons which we sometimes see made to carry bottles, let me have a draught of undiluted morning air. Morning air! If men will not drink of this at the fountainhead of the day, why, then, we must even bottle up some and sell it in the shops, for the benefit of those who have lost their subscription ticket to morning time in this world. But remember, it will not keep quite till noonday even in the coolest cellar, but drive out the stopples long ere that and follow westward the steps of Aurora. I am no worshipper of Hygeia, who was the daughter of that old herb-doctor/Esculapius, and who is represented on monuments holding a serpent in one hand, and in the other a cup out of which the serpent sometimes drinks; but rather of Hebe, cup-bearer to Jupiter, who was the daughter of Juno and wild lettuce, and who had the power of restoring gods and men to the vigor of youth. She was probably the only thoroughly sound-conditioned, healthy, and robust young lady that ever walked the globe, and wherever she came it was spring.

Industrial Society and Its Future

FC (Theodore J. Kaczynski)


93. We are going to argue that industrial-technological society cannot be reformed in such a way as to prevent it from progressively narrowing the sphere of human freedom. But because “freedom” is a word that can be interpreted in many ways, we must first make clear what kind of freedom we are concerned with.

94. By “freedom” we mean the opportunity to go through the power process, with real goals not the artificial goals of surrogate activities, and without interference, manipulation or supervision from anyone, especially from any large organization. Freedom means being in control (either as an individual or as a member of a SMALL group) of the life-and-death issues of one’s existence: food, clothing, shelter and defense against whatever threats there may be in one’s environment. Freedom means having power; not the power to control other people but the power to control the circumstances of one’s own life. One does not have freedom if anyone else (especially a large organization) has power over one, no matter how benevolently, tolerantly and permissively that power may be exercised. It is important not to confuse freedom with mere permissiveness (see paragraph 72).

95. It is said that we live in a free society because we have a certain number of constitutionally guaranteed rights. But those are not as important as they seem. The degree of personal freedom that exists in a society is determined more by the economic and technological structure of the society than by its laws or its form of government.[1] Most of the Indian nations of New England were monarchies, and many of the cities of the Italian Renaissance were controlled by dictators. But in reading about these societies one gets the impression that they allowed far more personal freedom than our society does. In part this was because they lacked efficient mechanisms for enforcing the ruler’s will: There were no modern, well- organized police forces, no rapid long-distance communications, no surveillance cameras, no dossiers of information about the lives of average citizens. Hence it was relatively easy to evade control.

96. As for our constitutional rights, consider for example that of freedom of the press. We certainly don’t mean to knock that right; it is a very important tool for limiting concentration of political power and for keeping those who do not have political power in line by publicly exposing any misbehavior on their part. But freedom of the press is of very little use to the average citizen as an individual. The mass media are mostly under the control of large organizations that are integrated into the system. Anyone who has a little money can have something printed, or can distribute it on the Internet or in some such way, but what he has to say will be swamped by the vast volume of material put out by the media, hence it will have no practical effect. To make an impression on society with words is therefore almost impossible for most individuals and small groups. Take us (FC) for example. If we had never done anything violent and had submitted the present writings to a publisher, they probably would not have been accepted. If they had been accepted and published, they probably would not have attracted many readers, because it’s more fun to watch the entertainment put out by the media than to read a sober essay. Even if these writings had had many readers, most of these readers would soon have forgotten what they had read as their minds were flooded by the mass of material to which the media expose them. In order to get our message before the public with some chance of making a lasting impression, we’ve had to kill people.

97. Constitutional rights are useful up to a point, but they do not serve to guarantee much more than what could be called the bourgeois conception of freedom. According to the bourgeois conception, a “free” man is essentially an element of a social machine and has only a certain set of prescribed and delimited freedoms; freedoms that are designed to serve the needs of the social machine more than those of the individual. Thus the bourgeois’s “free” man has economic freedom because that promotes growth and progress; he has freedom of the press because public criticism restrains misbehavior by political leaders; he has a right to a fair trial because imprisonment at the whim of the powerful would be bad for the system. This was clearly the attitude of Simon Bolivar. To him, people deserved liberty only if they used it to promote progress (progress as conceived by the bourgeois). Other bourgeois thinkers have taken a similar view of freedom as a mere means to collective ends. Chester C. Tan, Chinese Political Thought in the Twentieth Century, page 202, explains the philosophy of the Kuomingtang leader Hu Han-min: “An individual is granted rights because he is a member of society and his community life requires such rights. By community Hu meant the whole society of the nation.” And on page 259 Tan states that according to Carsun Chang (Chang Chun-Mai, head of the State Socialist Party in China) freedom had to be used in the interest of the state and of the people as a whole. But what kind of freedom does one have if one can use it only as someone else prescribes? FC’s conception of freedom is not that of Bolivar, Hu, Chang or other bourgeois theorists. The trouble with such theorists is that they have made the development and application of social theories their surrogate activity. Consequently the theories are designed to serve the needs of the theorists more than the needs of any people who may be unlucky enough to live in a society on which the theories are imposed.

98. One more point to be made in this section: It should not be assumed that a person has enough freedom just because he SAYS he has enough. Freedom is restricted in part by psychological controls of which people are unconscious, and moreover many people’s ideas of what constitutes freedom are governed more by social convention than by their real needs. For example, it’s likely that many leftists of the oversocialized type would say that most people, including themselves, are socialized too little rather than too much, yet the oversocialized leftist pays a heavy psychological price for his high level of socialization.


99. Think of history as being the sum of two components: an erratic component that consists of unpredictable events that follow no discernible pattern, and a regular component that consists of long-term historical trends. Here we are concerned with the long-term trends.

100. FIRST PRICINPLE. If a SMALL change is made that affects a long-term historical trend, then the effect of that change will almost always be transitory— the trend will soon revert to its original state. (Example: A reform movement designed to clean up political corruption in a society rarely has more than a shortterm effect; sooner or later the reformers relax and corruption creeps back in. The level of political corruption in a given society tends to remain constant, or to change only slowly with the evolution of the society. Normally, a political cleanup will be permanent only if accompanied by widespread social changes; a SMALL change in the society won’t be enough.) If a small change in a long-term historical trend appears to be permanent, it is only because the change acts in the direction in which the trend is already moving, so that the trend is not altered but only pushed a step ahead.

101. The first principle is almost a tautology. If a trend were not stable with respect to small changes, it would wander at random rather than following a definite direction; in other words it would not be a long-term trend at all.

102. SECOND PRINCIPLE. If a change is made that is sufficiently large to alter permanently a long-term historical trend, then it will alter the society as a whole. In other words, a society is a system in which all parts are interrelated, and you can’t permanently change any important part without changing all the other parts as well.

103. THIRD PRINCIPLE. If a change is made that is large enough to alter errantly a long-term trend, then the consequences for the society as a whole cannot be predicted in advance. (Unless various other societies have passed through the same change and have all experienced the same consequences, in which case one can predict on empirical grounds that another society that passes through the same change will be likely to experience similar consequences.)

104. FOURTH PRINCIPLE. A new kind of society cannot be designed on paper. That is, you cannot plan out a new form of society in advance, then set it up and expect it to function as it was designed to do.

105. The third and fourth principles result from the complexity of human societies. A change in human behavior will affect the economy of a society and its physical environment; the economy will affect the environment and vice versa, and the changes in the economy and the environment will affect human behavior in complex, unpredictable ways; and so forth. The network of causes and effects is far too complex to be untangled and understood.

106. FIFTH PRINCIPLE. People do not consciously and rationally choose the form of their society. Societies develop through processes of social evolution that are not under rational human control.

107. The fifth principle is a consequence of the other four.

108. To illustrate: By the first principle, generally speaking an attempt at social reform either acts in the direction in which the society is developing anyway (so that it merely accelerates a change that would have occurred in any case) or else it only has a transitory effect, so that the society soon slips back into its old groove. To make a lasting change in the direction of the development of any important aspect of a society, reform is insufficient and revolution is required. (A revolution does not necessarily involve an armed uprising or the overthrow of a government.) By the second principle, a revolution never changes only one aspect of a society; and by the third principle changes occur that were never expected or desired by the revolutionaries. By the fourth principle, when revolutionaries or Utopians set up a new kind of society, it never works out as planned.

109. The American Revolution does not provide a counterexample. The American “Revolution” was not a revolution in our sense of the word, but a war of independence followed by a rather far-reaching political reform. The Founding Fathers did not change the direction of development of American society, nor did they aspire to do so. They only freed the development of American society from the retarding effect of British rule. Their political reform did not change any basic trend, but only pushed American political culture along its natural direction of development. British society, of which American society was an offshoot, had been moving for a long time in the direction of representative democracy. And prior to the War of Independence the Americans were already practicing a significant degree of representative democracy in the colonial assemblies. The political system established by the Constitution was modeled on the British system and on the colonial assemblies, with major alteration, to be sure—there is no doubt that the Founding Fathers took a very important step. But it was a step along the road the English-speaking world was already traveling. The proof is that Britain and all of its colonies that were populated predominantly by people of British descent ended up with systems of representative democracy essentially similar to that of the United States. If the Founding Fathers had lost their nerve and declined to sign the Declaration of Independence, our way of life today would not have been significantly different. Maybe we would have had somewhat closer ties to Britain, and would have had a Parliament and Prime Minister instead of a Congress and President. No big deal. Thus the American Revolution provides not a counterexample to our principles but a good illustration of them.

110. Still, one has to use common sense in applying the principles. They are expressed in imprecise language that allows latitude for interpretation, and exceptions to them can be found. So we present these principles not as inviolable laws but as rules of thumb, or guides to thinking, that may provide a partial antidote to naive ideas about the future of society. The principles should be borne constantly in mind, and whenever one reaches a conclusion that conflicts with them one should carefully reexamine one’s thinking and retain the conclusion only if one has good, solid reasons for doing so.


111. The foregoing principles help to show how hopelessly difficult it would be to reform the industrial system in such a way as to prevent it from progressively narrowing our sphere of freedom. There has been a consistent tendency, going back at least to the Industrial Revolution, for technology to strengthen the system at a high cost in individual freedom and local autonomy. Hence any change designed to protect freedom from technology would be contrary to a fundamental trend in the development of our society. Consequently, such a change would either be a transitory one—soon swamped by the tide of history—or, if large enough to be permanent, would alter the nature of our whole society. This by the first and second principles. Moreover, since society would be altered in a way that could not be predicted in advance (third principle) there would be great risk. Changes large enough to make a lasting difference in favor of freedom would not be initiated because it would be realized that they would gravely disrupt the system. So any attempts at reform would be too timid to be effective. Even if changes large enough to make a lasting difference were initiated, they would be retracted when their disruptive effects became apparent. Thus, permanent changes in favor of freedom could be brought about only by persons prepared to accept radical, dangerous and unpredictable alteration of the entire system. In other words, by revolutionaries, not reformers.

112. People anxious to rescue freedom without sacrificing the supposed benefits of technology will suggest naive schemes for some new form of society that would reconcile freedom with technology. Apart from the fact that people who make suggestions seldom propose any practical means by which the new form of society could be set up in the first place, it follows from the fourth principle that even if the new form of society could be once established, it either would collapse or would give results very different from those expected.

113. So even on very general grounds it seems highly improbable that any way of changing society could be found that would reconcile freedom with modern technology. In the next few sections we will give more specific reasons for concluding that freedom and technological progress are incompatible.


114. As explained in paragraphs 65-67, 70-73, modern man is strapped down by a network of rules and regulations, and his fate depends on the actions of persons remote from him whose decisions he cannot influence. This is not accidental or a result of the arbitrariness of arrogant bureaucrats. It is necessary and inevitable in any technologically advanced society. The system HAS TO regulate human behavior closely in order to function. At work, people have to do what they are told to do, otherwise production would be thrown into chaos. Bureaucracies HAVE TO be run according to rigid rules. To allow any substantial personal discretion to lower-level bureaucrats would disrupt the system and lead to charges of unfairness due to differences in the way individual bureaucrats exercised their discretion. GENERALLY SPEAKING the regulation of our lives by large organizations is necessary for the functioning of industrial-technological society. The result is a sense of powerlessness on the part of the average person. It may be, however, that formal regulations will tend increasingly to be replaced by psychological tools that make us want to do what the system requires of us. (Propaganda, educational techniques, “mental health” programs, etc.)

115. The system HAS TO force people to behave in ways that are increasingly remote from the natural pattern of human behavior. For example, the system needs scientists, mathematicians and engineers. It can’t function without them. So heavy pressure is put on children to excel in these fields. It isn’t natural for an adolescent human being to spend the bulk of his time sitting at a desk absorbed in study. A normal adolescent wants to spend his time in active contact with the real world. Among primitive peoples the things that children are trained to do tend to be in reasonable harmony with natural human impulses. Among the American Indians, for example, boys were trained in active outdoor pursuits—just the sort of things that boys like. But in our society children are pushed into studying technical subjects, which most do grudgingly.

116. Because of the constant pressure that the system exerts to modify human behavior, there is a gradual increase in the number of people who cannot or will not adjust to society’s requirements: welfare leeches, youth-gang members, cultists, anti-government rebels, radical environmentalist saboteurs, dropouts and resisters of various kinds.

117. In any technologically advanced society the individual’s fare MUST depend on decisions that he personally cannot influence to any great extent. A technological society cannot be broken down into small, autonomous communities, because production depends on the cooperation of very large numbers of people and machines. Such a society MUST be highly organized and decisions HAVE TO be made that affect very large numbers of people. When a decision affects, say, a million people, then each of the affected individuals has, on the average, only a one-millionth share in making the decision. What usually happens in practice is that decisions are made by public officials or corporation executives, or by technical specialists, but even when the public votes on a decision the number of voters ordinarily is too large for the vote of any one individual to be significant.[2] Thus most individuals are unable to influence measurably the major decisions that affect their lives. There is no conceivable way to remedy this in a technologically advanced society. The system tries to “solve” this problem by using propaganda to make people WANT the decisions that have been made for them, but even if this “solution” were completely successful in making people feel better, it would be demeaning.

118. Conservatives and some others advocate more “local autonomy.” Local communities once did have autonomy, but such autonomy becomes less and less possible as local communities become more enmeshed with and dependent on large-scale systems like public utilities, computer networks, highway systems, and mass communications media and the modern health-care system. Also operating against autonomy is the fact that technology applied in one location often affects people at other locations far away. Thus pesticide or chemical use near a creek may contaminate the water supply hundreds of miles downstream, and the greenhouse effect affects the whole world.

119. The system does not and cannot exist to satisfy human needs. Instead, it is human behavior that has to be modified to fit the needs of the system. This has nothing to do with the political or social ideology that may pretend to guide the technological system. It is not the fault of capitalism and it is not the fault of socialism. It is the fault of technology, because the system is guided not by ideology but by technological necessity.[3] Of course the system does satisfy many human needs, but generally speaking it does this only to the extent that it is to the advantage of the system to do it. It is the needs of the system that are paramount, not those of the human being. For example, the system provides people with food because the system couldn’t function if everyone starved; it attends to people’s psychological needs whenever it can CONVENIENTLY do so, because it couldn’t function if too many people became depressed or rebellious. But the system, for good, solid, practical reasons, must exert constant pressure on people to mold their behavior to the needs of the system. Too much waste accumulating? The government, the media, the educational system, environmentalists, everyone inundates us with a mass of propaganda about recycling. Need more technical personnel? A chorus of voices exhorts kids to study science. No one stops to ask whether it is inhumane to force adolescents to spend the bulk of their time studying subjects most of them hate. When skilled workers are put out of a job by technical advances and have to undergo “retraining,” no one asks whether it is humiliating for them to be pushed around in this way. It is simply taken for granted that everyone must bow to technical necessity. And for good reason: If human needs were put before technical necessity there would be economic problems, unemployment, shortages or worse. The concept of “mental health” in our society is defined largely by the extent to which an individual behaves in accord with the needs of the system and does so without showing signs of stress.

120. Efforts to make room for a sense of purpose and for autonomy within the system are no better than a joke. For example, one company, instead of having each of its employees assemble only one section of a catalogue, had each assemble a whole catalogue, and this was supposed to give them a sense of purpose and achievement. Some companies have tried to give their employees more autonomy in their work, but for practical reasons this usually can be done only to a very limited extent, and in any case employees are never given autonomy as to ultimate goals—their “autonomous” efforts can never be directed toward goals that they select personally, but only toward their employer’s goals, such as the survival and growth of the company. Any company would soon go out of business if it permitted its employees to act otherwise. Similarly, in any enterprise within a socialist system, workers must direct their efforts toward the goals of the enterprise, otherwise the enterprise will not serve its purpose as part of the system. Once again, for purely technical reasons it is not possible for most individuals or small groups to have much autonomy in industrial society. Even the small-business owner commonly has only limited autonomy. Apart from the necessity of government regulation, he is restricted by the fact that he must fit into the economic system and conform to its requirements. For instance, when someone develops a new technology, the small business person often has to use that technology whether he wants to or not, in order to remain competitive.


Two Cabins

Henry David Thoreau Cabin, constructed July 2007 - January 2008

Outside: 14 ft. 4 in. x 10 ft. 4 in., peak: 14 ft.
Inside: 13 ft. 5 in. x 9 ft. 5 in., ceiling: 7 ft. 4 in.

Two windows: 5 ft. 6 in. x 3 ft., 14 in. off floor, centered
Door: 80 in. x 36 in., front, centered
Fireplace: rear wall, centered


Bill Traylor
Untitled (Man in Blue House with Rooster), 1939-43
Pencil, poster paint on found cardboard 13 in. x 10 in.

Untitled (Blue Construction with Two
Figures and Dog), 1939-43
Pencil, poster paint on found cardboard 13 in. x 7 in.

Untitled (Female Drinker), 1939-43
Pencil, poster paint on found cardboard 12 in. x 9 in.

Mose Tolliver
Self Portrait, 1978
House paint on plywood
21 in. x 17 in.

Henry Darger
At Ressurrectoation Run. Attacked by Fierce Glandelinians, One of the Vivians Hurls Grenades, c. 1960
Carbon, watercolor on manila paper 18 in. x 23 in.

Martin Ramirez
Untitled (Train tracks with two tunnels), 1948-1963
Crayon, pencil on handmade paper
18 in. x 24 in.

William Hawkins
The Blue Boar #2, 1989
Enamel on masonite
16 in. x 19 x/2 in.

Ted Kaczynski Cabin, constructed April 2008 - June 2008

Outside: 12 ft. 1 in. x 10 ft. 2 in., peak: 12 ft. 9 in.
Inside: 11 ft. 4 in. x 9 ft. 4 in., ceiling: 6 ft. 9 in.

Two windows: 18 in. square, left side: 39 in. off floor, 44 in. from front;
right side: 59 in. off floor, 30 in. from rear
Door: 76 in. x 26 in., front, centered
Bookshelf: left side, 9 ft. 10 in. x 8% in.
Woodstove: rear left


Ted Kaczynski
Untitled, c. 1980
Laser print on paper
11 in. x 81/2 in.

Black Hawk
Dreams or Visions of Himself Changed to a Destroyer or Riding a Buffalo Eagle,
Pencil, color pencil, ink, poster paint on found paper
10 in. x 16 in.

Joseph E. Yoakum
Idaho Falls Braintree Pass, c. 1966 Ball point pen, watercolor on paper 8 in. x 10 in.


Ted Kaczynski
Typed motto, c. 1985
Ink on paper <br3/4 in. x 3 1/2 in.

Ted Kaczynski
Code numbers, 1981
Pencil on paper
10 in. x 8 in.


Navajo Rug, 1910
3 ft. 4 in. x 5 ft. 6 in.

Jesse Howard
Untitled (A Man Has No Right to Defend
His Family), 1955
House paint on plywood
10 1/4 in. x 19 3/4 in.

Kaczynski Cabin Library (11 Stacks, listed from bottom to top)


Betty Owen, Typing for Beginners, 1976[4]

Upton Sinclair, The Jungle, 1906

Richard Rhodes, The Inland Ground, 1969

National Rifle Association, The Basics of Rifle Shooting, 1987[5]

Robert Silverberg, The Pueblo Revolt, 1970

Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, 1883[6]

Olaus Johan Murie, A Field Guide to Animal Tracks, 1954[7]

Arthur P. Mendel, ed., Essential Works of Marxism, 1961

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, 1596[8]

William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, 1929

Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons, 1862


Henry Jacobwitz, Electronics Made Simple, 1958[9]

United States Department of Justice, The Science of Fingerprints, 1973[10]

Alexandra Orme, Comes the Comrade!, 1949[11]

Richard Lattimore, The Revelation of John, 1962

Fyodor Dostoevski, Brothers Karamazov, 1878[12]

Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America, 1964

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha, 1951

Chandler S. Robbins, Bertel Brunn, Herbert S. Zim, Arthur Singer, Birds of

North America, 1966

Don Armando Palacio Valdes, Maximina, 1888[13]

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, 1932


Anthony Gooch, Angela Garcia de Paredes, Cassell’s Spanish-English/English-

Spanish Dictionary, 1978[14]

Robert V. Daniels, Red October, The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, 1967

Richard Gombin, The Radical Tradition, 1978[15]

Arthur H. Bremer, An Assassins Diary, 1973[16]

Isaac Asimov, Asimovs Guide to the Bible, The Old Testament, 1968[17]

E. F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful, 1973

T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland and Other Poems, 1930

Jack London, Martin Eden, 1913

Eric Hoffer, The True Believer, 1951[18]

Leo Tolstoy, The Cossacks and The Raid, 1862[19]


Jacques Ellul, Autopsy of Revolution, 1971[20]

William Least Heat-Moon, PrairyErth, 1993

FC, Industrial Society and Its Future, 1995[21]

Raymond F. Yates, A Boy and a Battery, 1942

Isaac Asimov, Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, The New Testament, 1969[22]

Robert N. Linscott, ed., Selected Poems & Letters of Emily Dickinson, 1959

Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, 1930

Frank Waters, Book of the Hopi, 1963

Albert Camus, The Stranger, 1946

Evan Hendricks, Trudy Hayden, Jack D. Novik, Your Right to Privacy, 1980[23]

John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, 1937[24]


Ernest Hemingway, The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, 1987

David Riesman, Abundance for What?, 1964[25]

Norman Cousins, Modern Man is Obsolete, 1945

Louise Dickinson Rich, We Took to the Woods, 1942

Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, 1918

Franz Kafka, The Trial, 1925

William Carlos Williams, In the American Grain, 1925

Paul Goodman, Growing Up Absurd: Problems of Youth in the Organized

System, 1956[26]

William Strunk Jr., Elements of Style, 1959[27]

W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge, 1944[28]


Allan R. Buss, Wayne Poley, Individual Differences: Traits and Factors, 1976[29]

Horacio Quiroga, The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories, 1935

Euell Gibbons, Gordon Tucker, Euell Gibbons’ Handbook of Edible Wild Plants, 1979[30]

M. H. A. Newman, Topology of Plane Sets, 1964[31]

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1949[32]

Margret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa, 1928

Saul D. Alinsky, Rules For Radicals, 1971

Niccolb Machiavelli, The Prince and The Discourses, 1950[33]

Theodore Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends, 1972

Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, 1859


Lila Pargment, Beginner’s Russian Reader, 1977[34]

Richard Flacks, Making History, 1988

Romola Nijinsky, ed., The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky, 1936[35]

Bernard DeVoto, ed., The Journals of Lewis and Clark, 1953

Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human, 1878

Irving Kohn, Meteorology for All, 1946

Bradford Angier, How to Stay Alive in the Woods, 1956[36]

Albert Speer, Spandau: The Secret Diaries, 1976[37]

L. Sprague De Camp, The Ancient Engineers, I960[38]

Kenneth Keniston, The Uncommitted: Alienated Youth in American Society, 1966


William Whyte, The Organization Man, 1956[39]

Stephen B. Oates, To Purge This Land With Blood: A Biography of John Brown, 1970

Colin Wilson, The Outsider, 1956

Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang, 1975

Jean Baker Miller, Toward a New Psychology of Women, 1976[40]

Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism, 1947

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, 1859[41]

Rosemary Sutcliff, Tristan and Iseult, 1971[42]

H. J. Eysenck, Sense and Nonsense in Psychology, 1957[43]

Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon, 1941[44]

Kiyoko & Nathan Lerner, Henry Darger’s Room, 851 Webster, 2007


Andrew Robinson, Lost Languages, 1957[45]

Chester C. Tan, Chinese Political Thought in the Twentieth Century, 1971[46]

Michael Spivak, Calculus On Manifolds, 1966

William H. Prescott, History of the Conquest of Mexico, 1843[47]

Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, 1970

Aubrey L. Haines, ed., Journal of a Trapper: Osborne Russell, 1965[48]

Eugene O’Neill, The Iceman Cometh, 1946

R. W. B. Lewis, The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy, & Tradition in 19th Century

America, 1955

Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent, 1907[49]

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Toms Cabin, 1852[50]

Ernest Seton-Thompson, Wild Animals I Have Known, 1898[51]


Hugh Davis Graham, Ted Robert Gurr, eds., Violence in America, Volume 1, 1979[52]

Food and Nutrition Board, Recommended Dietary Allowances, 1974[53]

Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic, 1917

Karl Marx, Das Kapital, 1848

Jules Michelet, History of the French Revolution, 1967[54]

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 1916

Walter Starkie, Raggle-Taggle: Adventures with a Fiddle in Hungary and Roumania, 1933[55]

Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd, 1874[56]

James Fenimore Cooper, The Deerslayer, 1823[57]

Sloan Wilson, Ice Rrothers, 1979[58]

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, 1845


Ted Robert Gurr, ed., Violence in America, Volume 2, 1989[59]

Glen R. Johnson, Tracking Dog, 1975[60]

David A. Conway, Ronald Munson, The Elements of Reasoning, 1990

Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobedience, 1854

Al Gore, Earth in the Ealance, Ecology and the Human Spirit, 1992

Lewis Mumford, The Conduct of Life, 1951[61]

Horace Kephart, Camping and Woodcraft, 1988[62]

J. W. Schultz, My Life as an Indian, 1935[63]

Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society, 1964[64]

H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, 1898

Twelve People

James Benning


David Henry Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817 at the family home on Virginia Road in Concord, Massachusetts. His father was John Thoreau. His mother was Cynthia Dunbar. David Henry was named after his father’s brother who had just died, and was the third of four children. The two older were Helen and John, Jr. The younger was his sister Sophia. At the age of twelve David Henry lost part of a toe while chopping wood. He attended Concord’s Center School and already as a child he was uncompromising. He looked up to his brother John. They were very close. When David Henry entered Harvard University in 1833, John paid his tuition. His sister Helen and an aunt helped with his expenses. He studied the classics, philosophy, and mathematics and lived at Hollis Hall. In 1835 he took the winter term off to teach school in Canton, Massachusetts. There he met the outspoken reformer, Orestes Brownson. David Henry graduated from Harvard in 1837 and soon after changed his name to Henry David, though never officially. He then took a teaching job at his boyhood school in Concord, but resigned within a few weeks after he was made to physically discipline six students - one of which was a family servant. On October 22, 1837 he began to write a journal. In 1838 he and his brother John started a grammar school called Concord Academy.

They stressed reasoning over memorizing and took their students on trips to the surrounding wilderness. In 1839 the brothers explored the White Mountains in New Hampshire spending a week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Two years later John suffered from tuberculosis and they were forced to close the Academy. Henry David then moved into a friend’s house working as a tutor, handyman, and gardener. In 1842 John died from tetanus. Henry David witnessed his death and soon after suffered from psychosomatic paralytic symptoms. For a few months in 1844 Henry David lived in Staten Island. There he met the abolitionist William Tappan and social reformer Lucretia Mott. He then returned to Concord to work in his father’s pencil factory where he discovered new ways to improve the production of graphite. His mother and sister were deeply involved in the abolition movement and Henry David followed their lead. In spring 1844 he accidentally set fire to the Concord woods destroying 300 acres of mature forest. In March 1845 Henry David began squatting on eleven acres of land along the northern shore of Walden Pond. With a borrowed axe he cut down twenty tall white pines from which he hand crafted lumber. In the side of a hill that sloped toward the water he dug a cellar. In early May friends helped him raise the frame for a 10 x 15 foot cabin. He then bought an old shed from an Irishman who worked on the Fitchburg Railroad. From it he salvaged wood and nails. By July 4, 1845 the cabin was boarded and roofed and Henry David moved in. By September he finished the lath and plastering and built a brick fireplace. In the fall he shingled the roof and outside walls and built a chimney. By winter the cabin was complete. The fireplace was opposite the front door, and the two sidewalls each had a large window measuring 6x3 feet. The ceiling was 8 feet high. In the spring Henry David planted two and a half acres chiefly with beans, but also a small part with potatoes, corn, peas, and turnips. He began to openly oppose U.S. policy on both slavery and the Mexican-American War. In summer he was jailed for withholding his poll taxes. His aunt paid what he owed and he was released the following day. He was furious with her. She was the same aunt who had helped him with expenses at Harvard. On September 6, 1847 Henry David left Walden. Except for a short trip to the Maine woods and the day in jail, he lived there for two years, two months, and two days. In 1851 he became the land surveyor of twenty-six square miles of forest for the township of Concord and during that same time became more actively involved in the Underground Railroad hiding escaped slaves at the family home and aiding their flight to Canada. He traveled to Quebec once, Cape Cod four times, and Maine three. In 1854 he traveled to Philadelphia and New York City. In 1857 he met John Brown and donated a small amount of money to his cause. In 1859 Brown was captured after invading Harper’s Ferry and hung for treason. Shortly after Henry David helped one of Brown’s accomplices escape to Canada. In 1860 Henry David contracted bronchitis and then tuberculosis. The next year he visited Niagara Falls, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul where he collected various specimens of plants and met with Native Americans. Henry David died on May 6, 1862. He was forty-four and had kept his journal for almost twenty-five years. It filled twenty-six handwritten volumes and contains over two million words.


Bill Traylor was born sometime in the early spring of 1853 or 1854 on a small cotton plantation near Benton, Alabama. He was third generation American. His parents, Bill Calloway and Sally Traylor, were the property of George Traylor. Sally was born in Virginia in 1815 and became a Traylor slave a few years later. Bill’s father was purchased from the Calloway estate in 1840. Bill joined his father, mother, sister, and three brothers as a Traylor possession upon birth. He started working the cotton fields at the age of six. When the Civil War ended, Bill and his family remained on the Traylor plantation. His father died when Bill turned seventeen, and he became the head of the household. In 1884 the first of his eight

children with Larisa Dunklin was born. Twelve years later the first of five children with Laura Williams was born. Bill was still living with Larisa at the time. He and Larisa had their seventh child that same year. In early 1904 Larisa took an outside lover. A few months later the lover was found dead. The death was never investigated. Larisa then disappeared taking with her their youngest child, whose name was Child. By 1909 Bill gathered together children from both marriages and with Laura moved to land he had rented from the Will Seller plantation near Montgomery, Alabama. No longer a sharecropper, Bill became a farmer. The price of cotton rose and Bill’s family made their way; then the stock market crashed and personal tragedy hit. On August 26,1929 Laura and Bill’s son Will was shot to death by two Birmingham policemen. The official report claimed he had a gun and was breaking and entering. Bill believed it was a police execution of yet another Negro, and it disturbed him greatly. By 1935 Bill’s farm had failed and he moved by himself into Montgomery. He rented a small shanty on Bell Street for $6 a month and made money repairing shoes. During his spare time he sat outside his door and began to draw on small scraps of discarded cardboard. He was 83 years old. Within a year his shoe repair business failed and he could no longer afford rent. He found a place to sleep in the back room of Dave Ross’s funeral parlor, along with a number of other homeless black men. Later that year Bill began to receive $15 a month from the Montgomery County Old Age Assistance Program. In spring 1939 Charles Shannon, a young white man, found Bill drawing on Monroe Street a block down from the funeral parlor. They became friends and Charles brought Bill charcoal, brushes and paint. In June 1939 Bill moved from the funeral parlor to a shoe-repair shop on Lawrence Street. Ten feet up the block toward the corner of Monroe was the locked back doorway of a colored-only pool hall next to a fruit stand run by Isaac Varon. Bill sat there from morning until night for the next three years completing over 1500 paintings and drawings of what he saw or remembered. In the fall of 1942 he left Montgomery to visit some of his children living in the north. He returned a year later. Shortly after he lost a leg to gangrene and joined the Catholic Church. The county found Child living in Montgomery, and his old age pension was denied. She reluctantly took him in. He tried painting again, but with less passion. Except for his name, Bill Traylor never learned to read or write. He died on October 23, 1949 at Montgomery’s Oak Street Hospital. His death was never reported to the Alabama Health Department.


Moses Ernest Tolliver was born on July 4, 1921 or 1922, but it might have been as early as 1915. His parents were Ike and Laney Tolliver. Mose was the youngest of twelve children. They worked as sharecroppers on the Charles Rittenour farm in the Pike Road Community a few miles southeast of Montgomery, Alabama. When Mose was eleven the family moved to Macedonia, Alabama, where he attended Mount Olive School. He soon quit to help with the family farming. Later Mose worked for a dry cleaning business and then operated a small truck-farm gathering produce. In 1935 his father died and his mother moved the family to the black side of Montgomery. There they settled into one of the small wooden duplexes on Sternfield Alley. Years later all of Sternfield Alley was razed to make room for the Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway. Mose first worked tending gardens on the white side of town and later did house painting, carpentry, and plumbing. In the early forties he married Willie Mae Thomas in a ceremony held at South Union Baptist Church. Soon after his wedding, he spent six months in the Army at Fort Benning, bringing about his own discharge. Over the years he fathered thirteen children, of which eleven survived. To support his family Mose did mostly unskilled labor. In 1968 while working at McLendon’s Furniture Company he was injured when a thousand pound crate of marble fell from a forklift. His left ankle was crushed. Muscles and tendons in his left leg were badly hurt. He was unable to walk without crutches. He was forced to stop working. He was in constant pain and drank heavily. Then he found the urge to paint and quit drinking. Sitting at his bed, he would complete eight to ten paintings a day. In 1975 he learned to write his name. He purposely wrote the ‘s’ in Mose backwards. In 1991 Willie Mae died. The two had been married for almost fifty years. His spirits fell severely low. He stopped painting. He missed Willie Mae terribly. But then he started to paint again, and continued until his death. He died on October 31, 2006 leaving behind thousands of paintings signed Moze T.


Henry Darger was born at home in Chicago on April 12, 1892. His parents were Henry Joseph Darger and Rosa Fullman Darger. Henry’s father was a tailor from Meldorf, a small town in northern Germany. Rosa was from Bell Center, Wisconsin. She died on April 1, 1896 shortly after giving birth to a baby girl. Henry was about to turn four. His father gave the baby up for adoption. Henry and his father then moved to a two-room apartment in the small alley of the 100 block between Adams and Monroe Streets. There his father taught Henry to read before he entered school. Henry had extraordinary intelligence. At St. Patrick’s Catholic Boys School he skipped the 2nd grade, but due to his father’s long working hours and crippling health, Henry was left to himself. He began to hate small children and he hated his father for giving his sister away. He became physically abusive. He started fires. He cut a teacher with a knife. He blamed God. He punched pictures of Jesus in the face. Then he took Confession and changed, wanting only to protect children. At the age of eight, Henry was sent to The Mission of our Lady of Mercy, also known as The News Boys’ Home, and switched to a public school called The Skinner.

Here his new environment was harsher. He began to make peculiar hand gestures and uncontrollable sounds. He appeared to be seriously disturbed. In 1904 his father moved to a Catholic old age home, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. Henry never saw his father again and was committed permanently to the Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children in Lincoln, Illinois. There he was relatively happy. It was safer and undemanding. A mile south near the Salt Creek the Asylum ran a dairy farm. Henry worked the summers there. On March 1, 1908 his father died. The next summer Henry and two other boys escaped from the Asylum farm. They hopped a freight train to Decatur and found work for a few months with a German farmer. This was the third time Henry had run away, but this time he didn’t return, instead he walked 175 miles to his godmother’s house in Chicago. She helped him get a job as a janitor at St. Joseph’s Hospital. There he took a room at the Workingman’s House and someone stole one of his notebooks. A year later Henry clipped a photo of five-year old Elsie Paroubek from the May 9, 1911 Chicago Daily News. She had been kidnapped and murdered. Then someone took the photo. Henry obsessed over his losses. He blamed God and again became blasphemous. One of the hospital nuns started calling him Crazy, a name that stuck with him forever. In 1917 Henry was drafted into the Army. He trained in Rockford, Illinois with Company L of the 32nd Infantry, and was sent to Camp Logan, Texas. Soon after, Henry developed an eye infection and was honorably discharged. He returned to St. Joseph’s Hospital and worked there until 1922 quitting due to a running battle with Sister DePaul. She was the one who named him Crazy. He then took a job as a dishwasher at Grant Hospital and moved to a boarding house at 1035 Webster Street. In 1928 he returned to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he remained a dishwasher. Sister DePaul had died. In 1932 he moved to a rooming house at 851 Webster Street owned by Nathan and Kiyoko Lerner. Henry carried his belongings down the street two blocks from one house to the other. His new room was in the back on the third floor. In 1947 he began to work at Alexian Brothers Hospital, again as a dishwasher. He was later transferred to the bandage room. At each job he always worked in the back having little contact with the public. Henry’s only known friend was William Schloeder who he met around 1910. They formed a secret children’s protective society they called the Black Brothers Lodge. In 1956 after forty-six years of friendship, William moved to San Antonio, Texas. He died three years later. On November 19, 1963 the pains from old age forced Henry to retire. He had worked fifty-four uninterrupted years, six to seven days a week, eight to ten hours a day. He never depended on welfare or charity. Henry then began to visit twice daily St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church attending both Mass and Communion. He walked the streets and alleys looking for discarded books and magazines. He collected junk and string. On March 24, 1968 Henry began to keep a personal diary. In 1969 he got hit by a car. In 1971 he had an eye operation. On November 15, 1972 Henry left 851 Webster Street and moved to St. Augustine’s Home for the Aged. He took nothing with him. He had lived in the same room for forty years. It had three light bulbs and measured 17 feet 6 inches by 13 feet 9 inches with a 9 foot 8 inch ceiling. It was filled from floor to ceiling. Found among the complete works of Frank L. Baum, two postcards picturing Henry and his friend William, bundles of magazines and newspapers, scrapbooks filled with thousands of cartoon clippings, and many balls of string, was a lifetime of work. From 1911 until the early 1930s, Henry wrote In the Realms of the Unreal. It consisted of 15,145 typewritten pages and filled thirteen hand-bound volumes. Somewhere in the middle of The Realms Henry copied word for word Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. In the early 1940s Henry began a 10,461 page handwritten sequel to The Realms called Further Adventures in Chicago: Crazy House and began to illustrate his writings with hundreds of paintings, many were over 12 feet long, some painted on both sides. On December 31, 1957 he began a daily weather diary that lasted for exactly ten years. It fills nine volumes, and on the last page he wrote the word “finished.” In 1963 he began an autobiography, The History of My Life. The first 206 pages give details about his life. The next four thousand pages are about a tornado that eventually becomes known as “Sweetie Pie.” Henry Darger died on April 13, 1973, a day after his 81st birthday.


Martin Ramirez was born on January 30, 1895 in Rincon de Velazquez, a small rural village at the center of Los Altos de Jalisco, a place of pure Spanish blood in west-central Mexico. His parents were Gertrudis Ramirez and Juana Gonzalez. He was the youngest of eight children. His father was an impoverished sharecropper who taught all of his children to read. They attended Mass at the Parish of Capilla de Milpillas. Martin married Maria Santa Ana Navarro Velazquer there in 1918. She was a 17-year old orphan, and somewhat poorer. Together they worked the El Venado rancheria and then moved to La Puerta del Rincon and El Pelon. Maria Santa Ana gave birth to a daughter at each place. Their names were Juana, Teofila, and Agustina. In 1923 Martin bought fifty acres of land on credit near San Jose de Gracia. It included a house and orchard. He added a milk cow and a horse, pigs and sheep, two deer, and a vegetable garden. Debt mounted. In 1925 he crossed the border at El Paso looking for extra work. Martin didn’t know his wife was pregnant. In February 1926 a son was born. She named him Candelario. Martin found work with the railroads in northern California. He sent money back home to Mexico. His wife sent him a picture of herself and their four children. In 1927 the Cristero Rebellion began. Although his wife and children survived, their property was lost to the struggle. Martin’s brother wrote him the news. Somehow Martin misinterpreted the letter. He mistakenly thought his wife had given help to the government soldiers that confiscated his land. He wrote his brother back saying he would never return to Mexico and wished for his children to be taken from his wife. Then in 1930 the Depression eliminated any work for Martin in the U.S. He couldn’t speak English. He was caught between two disintegrating worlds. He was destitute, and became depressed and disoriented. On January 9, 1931 Martin was committed to the psych ward at Stockton State Hospital. Over the next eight years he escaped many times, but always returned on his own. Each time his diagnoses escalated - first from manic depression to a catatonic form of dementia praecox, and then finally to incurable schizophrenia. He became somewhat mute. Around 1935 he began to draw obsessively. He made his own paper using a paste made from potato starch. After seventeen years at Stockton, Martin was moved to Dewitt State Hospital in Alburn, California. All of his drawings were sent to his wife in Mexico. She hung them on an outside wall of her adobe home. Later she stored them under a mattress. On January 6, 1952, Martin got his only visitor, Jose Gomez Ramirez, the son of his older sister. The nephew learned Martin had been diagnosed with tuberculosis, and Martin’s wife then burned his drawings along with the mattress. At Dewitt State Hospital, Martin remained quiet and continued to draw. Sometimes he drew the same picture twenty times. In 1951 he was discovered by Tarmo Pasto, Professor of Art and Psychology at nearby Sacramento State College. Pasto made a career from studying Martin. Martin continued to draw from morning until night, seven days a week until pulmonary edema brought about his death on February 17, 1963. He left behind over three hundred paintings. In 1995 ten more were found locked away and forgotten in a storage warehouse of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. They had been there forty years. Pasto had sent them to James Johnson Sweeney, the director of the museum, in 1955. Martin was buried in a pauper’s grave.


William Hawkins was born in rural Kentucky outside of Lexington on July 27, 1895. Two years later his mother gave birth to another boy, Vertia. She died a short time after, and his father dropped the two boys off with their maternal grandmother. Her name was Mary Mason Runyon Scudder. She owned a farm that was somewhat prosperous, raised horses, and was an accomplished quilter and God-fearing Christian. William attended school through the third grade. He never learned to read or write. At home he operated farm equipment, and repaired buildings and fences. He hunted and trapped, and often bragged about the money his pelts would bring. In 1916 his girlfriend became pregnant and his grandmother sent him away to Columbus, Ohio to live with relatives. He got a job at a steel casting company. About the time his child was born he was drafted into the Army and served in the Great War with an all black regiment. Over the next sixty years he held many jobs. He drove a delivery truck, did carpentry, masonry, plumbing, and painting. Later he ran a shelter for homeless youth, a brothel, and a flophouse. He was a storyteller, and a collector of cardboard, newspapers, magazines, scrap wood, metal, linoleum, and hubcaps. He sold candid photographs on the street. At the age of 80 he began to paint and continued for the next fourteen years. William Hawkins died in January 1990 at the age of 94.


Henry Aaron was born on February 5, 1934 in a low laying, poor black section of Mobile, Alabama known as Down the Bay. His parents were Herbert Aaron and Estella Pritchett Aaron. His father came from a long line of preachers. Henry’s great grandmother was half Cherokee. He was the third of eight children, all baptized at Morning Star Baptist Church. His mother was a member there. His father attended an Episcopal church where the services were shorter. At the start of WWII Henry’s father began working as a boilermaker’s assistant at Alabama Dry Dock and Shipbuilding. For some weeks he was escorted to work by armed guards when white dockworkers rioted over the hiring of Negroes. Henry’s younger brother Alfred died at two. His sister Alfredia was born shortly after. Years later, Henry would help send both Alfredia and his younger brother James to college. In 1942 Henry’s father moved the family to nearby Toulminville and paid two carpenters $100 to build a six-room house. Henry’s father scavenged the wood and his mother pulled and straightened nails. Then his father got laid off at the dry docks and opened a small tavern next to their house called the Black Cat Inn. He also did some bootlegging. Henry picked potatoes, mixed cement, delivered ice, and wore hand-me-down clothes worn by his older sister. He loved baseball. He practiced by hitting bottle caps with a broomstick. Later he made a bat from a tree branch and a ball from scraps of rubber and old nylon stockings. Henry batted cross-handed. In 1945 Toulminville became part of Mobile and Washington Carver Park was built across the cornfield from Henry’s home. It was the first park for blacks in Alabama. Henry played there as much as he could. At 17 he joined a semi-pro baseball team, the Mobile Black Bears, but his mother wouldn’t allow him to travel, so he could only play the Sunday home games in nearby Prichard. Henry attended Central High School for four years. In 1952, just before graduating, he left home with the barnstorming Indianapolis Clowns, one of the last teams of the old Negro Leagues. Henry, having never gone any further than Prichard, traveled to Winston-Salem, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Little Rock, Hot Springs, Nashville, Greenwood, Cullman, Oklahoma City, Sikeston, Asheville, Denton, and Spartanburg. He never played in Indianapolis. Within the year the Clowns sold Henry to the Boston Braves. They sent him to their Class-C farm team, the Eau Claire Bears in the Wisconsin Northern League. There he stopped batting cross-handed and was named Rookie of the Year. The next year he was sent to the Class-A Jacksonville Tars in the Sally League. There he was voted Most Valuable Player. At both Eau Claire and Jacksonville he broke the color barrier. In Jacksonville Henry met Barbara Lucas. She was a Florida A&M college student. They got married in the fall on October 6, 1953. Their first child, Gaile, was born in Puerto Rico. The Braves had sent Henry there to play in the Winter League. Henry and Barbara had four more children: Hankie, born in early spring of 1957; twins, Lary and Gary, born later that same year in December - Gary died in the hospital a few days after birth; and their last, Dorinda, born on Henry’s birthday in 1962. Henry began his Major League career with the Milwaukee Braves on April 13, 1954. He played for twenty-three seasons. By 1970 it became apparent that Henry was in reach of the all-time home run record held by Babe Ruth. The next year Barbara filed for divorce. At the end of the 1973 season Henry was one home run short of tying Ruth’s record. During the off-season he received almost a million letters - more than some were hateful, bigoted, and life threatening. In November Henry married Billye Williams, an Atlanta news anchor, and later adopted her daughter, Ceci. Billye’s first husband was the late Dr. Sam Williams, an Atlanta civil rights activist. On April 8, 1974, Henry hit his 715th career home run breaking Babe Ruth’s record. When Henry retired in 1976, he was the last Major Leaguer to have played in the Negro Leagues. In 1982 Henry became a vice president and director of player development for the Atlanta Braves. He was one of the first blacks in baseball to be hired for an upper-management position. Since, he has fought for racial parity on and off the field.


Arthur Bremer was born in Milwaukee on August 21, 1950. His father was William Bremer, a bread truck driver. His mother was Sylvia Bremer, a housewife. Arthur was the third of four sons. He attended South Division High School where he was remembered as being awkward and withdrawn. He had no record of violence. One of his English teachers thought of him as being a promising young writer. In January 1969 Arthur graduated 76 in a class of 161 and began working as a busboy at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. Within a year he was demoted to dishwasher for talking to himself in public. He filed a complaint with the Milwaukee Commission on Community Relations. They found him to be bordering on paranoia, and his complaint was dropped. He then quit without notice and began doing maintenance work for the county parks. In September 1970 Arthur enrolled at Milwaukee Area Technical College and began studying aerial photography, art, writing, and psychology. On September 1, 1971 he took a part-time job as a janitor at Story Elementary School. He continued studying at MATC. Later that month he bought a blue 1967 Rambler Rebel for $800. On October 16 he moved from his parents’ house and rented a three-room apartment at 2433 W. Michigan Street. The rent was $138.50 a month. A week later he punched his father in the face. In November he shot holes into the ceiling of Flintrop’s target range. That night he was found illegally parked in front of a synagogue asleep in his car. There were bullets scattered across the front seat and on his person was found a 9mm Browning automatic. He was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct, and was made to undergo psychiatric evaluation. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, he underwent psychotherapy, and was fined $38.50. The concealed weapon charge was dropped. During this time Arthur met Joan Pemrich. She was a 15-year old student at the school where he worked. After three dates, Joan found him weird and broke it off. Arthur shaved his head and refused to leave her alone. Joan’s mother threatened to call the police and he stopped harassing her. On January 13, 1972 he bought a second pistol from Casanova Guns, Inc. for $80, a Charter Arms .38mm. A week later he quit school and work. On March 2 he began writing a diary. Thirty-three days later all 148 pages were filled. He wrapped the diary in plastic and aluminum foil and looked for a place to hide it, first at Sheridan Park, and then the Lake Front. Both places were too crowded. Finally he found an abandoned building below the south end of the 27th Street viaduct and hid it there. The next day he began a second diary. The first entry was ‘April 4, either Nixon or Wallace.” That night he attended a Wallace for President rally at the Red Carpet Inn near Billy Mitchell Field. Two days later he flew to JFK. He mistakenly left his guns on the plane. The captain had him paged and they were returned. He took a helicopter to Manhattan and stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria. The next day he took a limousine through Chinatown, the Bowery, and the financial district. He went to a massage parlor he found from the want ads in the back of Screw. He tried to rent a car, but failed, not owning a credit card. He flew back to Milwaukee. His front right tire had gone flat and he hurried to have it fixed. The next morning he took the Ludington car ferry across Lake Michigan, and that night found a motel in central Michigan somewhere along US Hwy 10. Around midnight he accidently discharged one of his pistols making a hole in the wall, but no one noticed. In the morning he prepared to cross the border into Canada. He hid his guns in the trunk of his car. The Browning slid into a narrow opening and could not be retrieved. Arthur arrived in Ottawa that afternoon on April 10. He registered at the Lord Elgin Hotel for two nights and was given room 911. Forty Secret Service agents were staying on the same floor. President Nixon was in Canada to meet with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Arthur got a passing glimpse of the President on his way to Parliament Hill. That next night he ate at the Chateau Clarion and the following day he visited the National Gallery of Art.

Nixon returned to Washington, DC on April 12. That same day Arthur drove to New Carrollton, Maryland, and got a motel fifteen miles from the White House. It cost $17 a night. He stayed for three days, but never saw Nixon. He gave up and drove back to Milwaukee. He tried to go to a Brewers game but it was called off because of cold weather. On May 7 he left Milwaukee and drove to Michigan. He attended a Wallace rally in Lansing the next day, another one in Cadillac on May 10, another in Jackson on May 11, and yet another in Kalamazoo on May 13. The next day he drove to Wheaton, Maryland. On May 15, 1972 he attended an early morning Wallace rally. In the afternoon he attended another in Laurel, Maryland. A few minutes after 4 pm in the parking lot of Laurel Shopping Center Arthur shot George Wallace four times. One of the .38mm bullets lodged in Wallace’s spinal cord. He also wounded three others, E. C. Dothard, an Alabama State Policeman and Wallace’s personal bodyguard, Dora Thompson, a campaign volunteer, and Nick Zarvos, a Secret Service Agent. In Arthur’s car the FBI found two Milwaukee Public Library books - RFK Must Die by Robert Blair Kaiser and Sirhan by Azis Shabab, the 1972 Writer’s Yearbook, the Washington Post, and two Baltimore newspapers, thirteen maps, a suitcase full of clothes, including a business suit, a Norelco electric razor, four blankets, two pillows, a small yellow umbrella, Bausch & Lomb binoculars, a Crown Corder cassette tape recorder, an Audiovox portable 4-band police radio, a Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic camera, and a handwritten diary of 137 pages signed Arthur Bremer. The lost 9mm Browning was found after a reading of the diary and a second search of the car. A few hours after the shooting the FBI entered Arthur’s apartment in Milwaukee. There they found one of Arthur’s high school theme papers entitled Guitar, an un-mailed letter to Joan, a two inch button of Arthur’s face, a booklet called 101 Things to Do in Jail, two books by Bradford Angier - How to Stay Alive in the Woods and At Home in the Woods, a dozen pornographic comic books, 44 rounds of ammunition, a Confederate flag, and literature on the Black Panthers and Angela Davis. On August 4, 1972, seventy-five days after the shooting, the trial began in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Judge Ralph W. Powers presided.

Arthur pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. The trial lasted five days. After deliberating for 87 minutes, the jury of six woman and six men found Arthur guilty of attempted murder and he was sentenced to 63 years in prison. He appealed and on September 28 it was reduced to 53 years. After the trial Arthur’s diary was returned to him. He had it copyrighted and Harper’s Magazine Press published it in 1973 as An Assassins Diary. The hidden diary wasn’t found until August 26, 1980. After examining it, the FBI made only two details public - Arthur had admiration for Vel Phillips, a radical black Milwaukee Aiderwoman, and that Julie Nixon Eisenhower was also a target. Arthur’s father claimed ownership of the diary. He argued it belonged to him because his boy had signed it. On September 10, 1981, Circuit Judge David Willis ruled it the property of Sherman R. Griffin, the demolition worker who found it. On July 22, 1982 he sold it through the Milwaukee Auction Gallery. An unidentified man from Chicago bought it for $5500. It has never been made public. In the 1980s Wallace wrote several letters to Arthur forgiving him. He never replied. Arthur was released from the Maryland Correctional Institute in Hagerstown, Maryland on November 9, 2007 at the age of 57. He served 35 years and remains on parole until 2025. Arthur lives alone in Cumberland, Maryland.


Black Hawk was born in the fall of 1832 somewhere along the Cheyenne River in Dakota Territory. He married Hollow Horn Woman while living in the Cherry Creek district of the Cheyenne River Sioux Agency. His first child was born in 1862. Later Black Hawk became the chief medicine man of the Sans Arc Band of Lakota Sioux. He held no property. He knew much about wildlife and hunting. He studied the warfare and ceremonies of his enemy the Crow. In the winter of 1880 Black Hawk and his family were starving. By this time he had taken several wives and had numerous children. To make money, he made seventy-six ink and color pencil drawings on foolscap paper salvaged from discarded ledger books left behind by the white man. His first drawing was inspired by a dream vision. William Catton who ran the agency trading post bought the drawings. Black Hawk was killed in December 1890 fighting federal troops at Wounded Knee in the newly formed state of South Dakota. The drawings were later bound into a book. It remains the most complete existing visual record of Lakota life. Neither his birth nor his death was ever officially recorded.


Joseph Yoakum was born on February 20, 1890 in Ash Grove, Missouri. His birth was never officially recorded. He claimed to have been born in the Southwest Territory near Window Rock in 1888. He wanted to be Navajo. His mother, Fannie Wallow, was French, African, and Cherokee. She was born a slave. His father, John Yokum - an earlier spelling of the family name - was also African and Cherokee and perhaps some Creek. Joseph was the middle child of the seven that lived. His mother gave birth ten times. Joseph attended school for four months and at the age of nine he joined the Great Wallace Circus. There he tended horses. Later he traveled with the four largest railroad circuses of the time - Adam Firebaugh and Sells Brothers, Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, Ringling Brothers, and Al G. Barnes. After seven years on the road he returned to Ash Grove to work at a limekiln. On August 25, 1910 Joseph married Myrtle Julian. She lived on a neighboring farm. Their first child was born on February 28, 1909, eighteen months before they were married. They named him Louis. Two more children were born in the next four years, Peter and Margaret. In 1915 they moved to his wife’s birthplace in Fort Scott, Kansas. There he worked for the Hale Coal and Mining Company. Twin boys were born in 1916, John and William, and in summer 1918, Joseph was drafted into the Army and assigned to the all black 805th Pioneer Infantry. He was court-martialed for threatening a white officer who had called him a nigger and given six months of hard labor. Later he was reinstated and sent to the frontline at Clermont-en-Argonne. After the war, Joseph didn’t return home. Instead he traveled the world as a railroad porter, merchant seaman, and hobo. He lost contact with his children for eighteen years, reconnecting only by a chance meeting with his son John during a train ride somewhere on the east coast. In 1925 he worked in Cincinnati as a lithographer printing circus posters. At the beginning of the depression he moved to Chicago and married a woman named Floyd from Pensacola, Florida. In Chicago he worked as a janitor, mechanic, and carpenter. Later he worked in a foundry, steel mill, and ice cream parlor. In 1946 he was diagnosed with “chronic brain syndrome” and his wife had him committed to Hines Veterans Hospital. He spent a year there as a psychiatric patient. Shortly after his release his wife died. Joseph lived on his small veteran’s pension, Social Security, and if he could get it, money earned from working odd jobs. In 1950 his cousin attacked him with a knife and Joseph sent him to the hospital near death. The fight was over the cousin’s ex-wife. In the 1960s he joined a Native American group and traveled to see his children in Kansas, Missouri, Florida, and Washington, DC. At some point he began to draw. Just before he died he said he had been drawing all of his life. His family thought he started to draw on a regular basis around 1950. He told others he had started in the early 1960s after a dream about Lebanon. He also said he had to do something or he’d go crazy. In his last twenty years Joseph drew every day, sometimes all day long. He died on December 25, 1972.


Jesse Howard was born on July 4, 1885 in a small town in Callaway County called Shamrock, Missouri. His parents were Lawson Thomas Howard and Martha Elizabeth Hunt Howard. He had a twin sister. They were the youngest of nine children. Their mother was from Kentucky and their father was from West Virginia. Jesse always called his father Uncle Lost. They lived on eighty acres of post oak land and gathered sap and made molasses to sell. Their house was a log cabin with dirt floors. They helped their neighbors in times of need. Jesse attended the one-room Pugh School near Calwood through the sixth grade. School was held three months a year so the children could work in the fields. Jesse’s mother died when he was 14. At 18 he left the farm and worked driving spikes and building roadbed for the Illinois Central. Then hoboing brought him to North Dakota where he followed the wheat harvest west to the foothills of Mt. Shasta. Later he returned east to tend sheep in Red Rock, Montana and put up hay in the Big Hole Basin. He was a cook’s assistant in Yellowstone. He worked the threshing machines through Nebraska and Montana. He returned home to Missouri and the family farm in 1905. In 1911 his father died. On July 23, 1916 he married Maude Linton on her family’s front porch. Their first date had been a visit to the Negro church near the Pugh School. They were the only white people in attendance. Maude taught elementary school and studied one summer at the Kirksville Normal School. On September 6, 1917 their first child was born, Thomas Leo. In 1918 they moved four times. In 1919 they moved to Arkansas. Jesse worked for the railroad again, this time building bridges. Then Maude got sick and Jesse returned to Missouri without her and bought a 40-acre farm called the Old Downs Place. When Maude got better, she rejoined Jesse and gave birth to Jewell Irene on August 10, 1920, then Pearl Elizabeth on October 27, 1924, and Ruby Elizabeth on February 10, 1927. When the depression hit they sold the farm and moved to The Bottom for a few months and lived in a cave. Then they moved to the Dunlap Place near Fairview Church where Carl Jay was born on March 14, 1932. In 1933 they moved to a small farm next to the Dorsett place north of Fulton. They lived there for eleven years. In January 1944 they moved to Old Jeff City Road a bit closer to Fulton. Jesse named it Sorehead Hill, but just as often he called it Hell’s Eight Acres. There they stayed for the rest of their lives. On St. Valentine’s Day Maude began work at the Fulton Shoe Factory and remained working there until 1959. During those years she was their main source of income. Jesse made his first piece of sculpture in 1941. He was 56. At Sorehead Hill he began to paint signs about everything from local politics to the apocalypse. He worked constantly. He built ten small sheds to store his materials. Across his property he planted his signs. Things were stolen and destroyed. His place was set on fire. In 1952 a few people circulated a petition to have him committed to an asylum, but most of his neighbors ignored it. In 1954 Jesse traveled to Washington, DC to complain to his Congressman. The Secret Service removed him from the Capitol in a wheelchair and sent him home on a bus. Jesse continued to work until he died in 1983. Maude died a few years later. On June 6, 1989 Jesse’s youngest child, Carl Jay, had bulldozers raze the ten old weathered buildings and put the land up for sale.


Theodore John Kaczynski was born in Chicago on May 22, 1942. His parents were Theodore Richard Kaczynski and Wanda Dombek, second-generation Polish Americans. His father was known as Turk. Just before Ted’s fifth birthday the family moved to South Carpenter Street. Turk worked in the family sausage business at the South Side stockyards while Wanda stayed at home and Ted attended Sherman Elementary School. Turk and Wanda were intellectuals and agnostic. Most of their neighbors were Catholic. In 1949 Ted’s brother David was born, and three years later the family moved to Evergreen Park, Illinois. There they lived at 9209 South Lawndale Avenue among a mixture of Irish, Italians, Czechs, and Poles. Within a few months blacks began to move there too. Turk was one of a few to give them open support. Ted attended Central School. On an I.Q. test he scored above the genius level and then skipped the sixth grade. For high school he attended Evergreen Park Community School and excelled at mathematics. He skipped his junior year and graduated in 1958 just before his sixteenth birthday. That fall he entered Harvard University on an academic scholarship and moved into room N43 at Eliot House. As a sophomore he was chosen for a series of psychological experiments conducted by Dr. Henry Murray who was funded by the CIA. Ted was the youngest and poorest of the twenty-two students selected. He was paid to participate, and Murray assigned him the code name Lawful. The experiments lasted three years. Later they were found to be deceitful, abusive, and in violation of the Nuremberg Code. Ted graduated from Harvard in 1962. Five years later he received a PhD in mathematics from the University of Michigan. His doctorial dissertation on geometric function theory was so advanced it had to be evaluated by an outside committee. It won the Sumner Myers Prize for being the most outstanding dissertation of 1967. That fall Ted began teaching mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley. Two years later he abruptly resigned and began to write a journal. He and his brother David then drove to Canada and tried to lease land in northern British Columbia. But their request was denied, and they returned to Illinois to stay in Lombard where their parents had moved. The next summer Ted again went to Canada trying to find land, but that too failed. In spring 1971 David moved to Great Falls, Montana. Together the two brothers bought 1.4 acres of land four miles south of Lincoln, Montana. On June 19, 1971 Ted dug a root cellar and began to construct a cabin. He hauled lumber and plywood in an old 1954 dark blue Chevrolet pickup truck. He built a 10 x 12 foot wood frame structure and raised it by himself. He installed a woodstove near the rear of the cabin and a bit to the left. A bookshelf ran across the top of the front and two sidewalls. A 19-inch square window on the left was centered from top to bottom and slightly forward, another of the same size on the right was at the top and back. The front door was opposite shelves that covered the rear wall. There was no electricity, no plumbing or outhouse. He composted his waste and siphoned water out of Canyon Creek. He planted a garden and hunted for food. In fall 1972 he left for Salt Lake City to work as a carpenter’s helper. He returned to his cabin the next June. He fought with his mother through the mail. He became acutely sensitive to sound and began to do monkey wrenching - destroying some logging equipment and shooting at helicopters. In spring 1978 he made his first bomb. In May he took a Greyhound bus back to Lombard, Illinois to work with his father and brother at Foam Cutting Engineers. He brought the bomb with him. While changing buses in Chicago, he left the bomb in the faculty parking lot adjacent to the Science and Engineering Building at the University of Illinois Chicago Circle Campus. It was in a wooden box wrapped in brown paper and addressed to E. J. Smith, Professor of Rocket Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York. The return address was Buckley Crist, Professor of Computer Science, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Mary Gutierrez found the package and returned it to Northwestern. Campus security examined it and officer Terry Marker was slightly injured. The next day Ted began working with his father and brother. There he met Ellen Tarmichael. She and Ted dated a few times, but Ellen found Ted odd and stopped seeing him. Ted then began harassing her and lost his job. His brother had to do the firing. Soon after Ted found another job at Prince Castle in Carol Stream, Illinois. Around this time, to avoid inheritance tax, Turk began to give his sons $1000 a year. By 1990 Turk increased it to $1500. In May 1979 Ted made a second bomb and hid it inside a Phillies Cigar box. He left it in a study room of the Technological Institute at Northwestern University. John Harris, a graduate student, was cut and burned when he opened it. At the end of summer Ted quit his job, borrowed his brother’s car, drove to Montana, made another bomb, and drove back to Illinois to return the car. On November 15, 1979, he mailed the bomb from Chicago to a Washington, DC address. The package was put on board American Airlines flight 444 bound for Washington National. The bomb was equipped with an aneroid barometer set to go off at 2000 feet, but it didn’t explode. Instead it merely started a small fire in the baggage compartment and the flight landed safely. No one was hurt. On November 18, 1979 Ted returned to Montana. On April 18, 1980 he again visited Chicago. On June 3 he mailed a copy of Sloan Wilson’s Ice Brothers to Percy Wood, the president of United Airlines. It arrived at Wood’s home in Lake Forest, Illinois on June 10, 1980 - Wood’s birthday. Hidden inside the book was a bomb. Wood received serious cuts to his face and upper left leg. In October 1981 Ted traveled to Salt Lake City and left a large package in a hallway of the Bennion Hall Business Building at the University of Utah. It looked suspicious and the FBI was alerted. No one was hurt. The bomb was found to be made from ordinary materials - smokeless powders, a galvanized pipe, carved wooden plugs, two D-cell batteries, a household on/off switch, doweling, and gasoline. The initials FC were neatly engraved onto a piece of metal. Ted returned to Montana and bought David’s share of the cabin property. On July 2, 1982, Ted left a package with a strange handle as a triggering device in Room 411 of the Cory Hall Mathematics Building at the University of California at Berkeley. Diogenes Angelakos, the director of the Electronics Research Laboratory, found the package. He was severely burned and his right arm and hand were badly hurt.

Then for three years Ted sent no bombs. He took month long hikes into the mountains. He made frequent trips into Lincoln and befriended librarian Sherri Wood, at times helping her shelve books. He stopped writing his father and mother. He argued with his brother. Then once again he traveled to Berkeley. On May 15, 1985 he left a black vinyl spiral binder in Room 264 of the Cory Hall Computer Science Building. John Hauser, a computer engineering graduate student and US Air Force captain on special assignment, found it. His right arm was nearly blown off. Former victim Diogenes Angelakos stopped the bleeding and saved Hauser from dying. Later that month Ted mailed a package from Oakland to the Boeing Aircraft Company’s Fabrication Division in Auburn, Washington. It had not been addressed to anyone specifically. Security dismantled it and the FBI found it to be overly elaborate. The fusing system used more power than necessary and employed redundancies. The woodwork and overall construction was painstakingly crafted, and the explosives were tightly sealed and much stronger than prior bombs. In November Ted traveled to Salt Lake City again and mailed a package to the home of Professor James McConnell in Scio, Michigan. McConnell was well known for behavioral research. The package appeared to be a doctoral dissertation from Ralph C. Kloppenburg. When Nick Suino, McConnell’s teaching assistant, opened the package on November 15, 1985, both men were injured. A few weeks later Ted traveled to Sacramento. On the morning of December 11, 1985 he placed a piece of scrap lumber with nails protruding from each end at the back door of a small computer store called Renteck. The owner was Hugh Scrutton, a 38-year old Berkeley mathematics graduate. When he picked up the wood, it exploded. He died soon after. Fourteen months later, Ted traveled to Salt Lake City. On February 20, 1987 he placed an identical piece of wood with protruding nails behind a small computer store called CAAMS. When its owner Gary Wright picked up the wood it exploded, severely damaging his face and mangling his left arm and hand. This same year Ted began corresponding in Spanish with Juan Sanchez Arreola, a Mexican farm worker living in Texas and friend of Ted’s brother. The correspondence continued for eight years, but in person they never met. Ted tried to help Juan and his family with immigration problems. In July 1990 Ted’s brother got married to Linda Patrik. Ted refused to attend the wedding. On October 2,1990 Ted’s father shot himself to death. He had been terminally ill with cancer. Ted took more extended trips into the mountains. He continued monkey wrenching destroying a number of dirt bikes and a bulldozer. He wrote letters to various local and national government agencies requesting information about radiation, parasitic infections, and sonic booms. He experimented with explosives. Then after six years of silence, Ted made two more bombs. He traveled to Sacramento mailing both of them on June 18, 1993 along with a letter to the New York Times. The first bomb was sent to Dr. Charles J. Epstein, a geneticist at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. It arrived at his Marin County home in Tiburon, California on June 22. The bomb destroyed his right arm. Two days later the second bomb, disguised as a graduate dissertation, arrived at the Computer Science Department at Yale University. It was addressed to David Gelernter, an associate professor and author of computer linking software named LINDA. It damaged his right leg and lung, mangled his right hand, and broke the other. Both men were close to death. That same day the New York Times received Ted’s letter crediting the attacks to an anarchist group called FC. In May 1994 Ted made three more bombs. In December he traveled to San Francisco and mailed a package to Thomas J. Mosser, vice president at Burson-Marsteller, a public relations firm. The package arrived at his North Caldwell, New Jersey home on December 10, 1994. He died from the blast. Over the past ten years most of the money Ted used came mainly from his mother and brother, which included a sum from his father’s estate. Ted lived on about $1600 a year. At the beginning of 1995 he received his last payment, a $2000 loan from his brother. A few months later Ted traveled to Oakland and mailed another bomb. It was addressed to William Dennison, president of the California Forestry Association in Sacramento. It arrived on April 24, 1995. William Dennison was no longer in charge, so it was forwarded to Gilbert Murray, the new president. The explosion killed him immediately. In June Ted sent the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Penthouse magazine a text entitled “Industrial Society and Its Future.” It was signed FC. An accompanying letter promised the killing would stop if the text would be published. The FBI thought FC might mean Fuck Computers. On September 19, 1995 the Washington Post in collaboration with the New York Times published all 35,000 words of the text. Ted’s brother recognized the writing and in mid February 1996 alerted the FBI. Ted was arrested outside of his cabin on the morning of April 3, 1996. His personal journal was found inside. It was thousands of pages long, written first in English, then Spanish, and finally in a numeric code. Also found was a library of 257 books, and a bomb similar to the last two deadly ones. At the beginning of December his cabin was taken into evidence and moved to a FBI warehouse at Mather Field near Sacramento. In November 1997 jury selection began. On January 8, 1998 Ted asked permission of the court to fire his lawyers and represent himself. He disagreed with their insanity defense. Judge Garland Burrell Jr. denied his request. Twelve days later Ted took a plea. His trial never happened. On May 4, 1998 he was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Ted is incarcerated at the Federal Supermax Facility near Florence, Colorado. He is prisoner 04475-046.

Freedom Club

Julie Ault{1}

April 16, 2008. “I spent last weekend clearing a space and digging in the dirt; made six trips down the mountain to get cement and wood. I should have the foundation finished this weekend.”[65] James Benning was suddenly planning to build a cabin in a manzanita grove in the Sierra Nevada to mimic the one that Theodore Kaczynski had completed thirty-six years earlier in the pines of Montana. The version of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin Benning had made the year before was located nearby but out of sight. The Thoreau cabin had a pragmatic beginning. Once Benning had finished remodeling the place he had bought in the mountains, he was eager to do more construction. Having never built a structure from scratch, he wanted to learn how. Thoreau’s quintessential American house came to mind.

Benning has long been concerned in his filmmaking with “landscape as a function of time.” He regards looking as method, form, and subject. In the late nineties, during a teaching residency in Korea, he went searching for something to read and found that the library at hand contained few English books. It was then that he read Walden. When he started teaching a class called “Looking and Listening” a few years later, he read the book again and further recognized his affinity with Thoreau in this passage: “No method nor discipline can supersede the necessity of being forever on the alert. What is a course of history, or philosophy, or poetry, no matter how well selected, or the best society, or the most admirable routine of life, compared with the discipline of looking at what is to be seen?”[66]

Benning’s awareness of Kaczynski was also kindled through reading, having come across Industrial Society and Its Future, aka the Unabomber Manifesto, when it was initially published in 1995.[67] He was interested in its author “before I knew it was Kaczynski, when the bombings were happening and they seemed somewhat random. Then finally the FBI concluded that it was about technology and airplanes. Once he was arrested and was immediately painted as this weird fellow, I questioned who he really was. Whenever the media makes someone look so different than what they probably are, I get interested.”[68] More than a decade later, his curiosity was reawakened when he read that the cabin Kaczynski built in 1971 was modeled after Thoreau’s.[69] On a plane en route to a conference about nature the week before “digging in the dirt,” Benning reread the manifesto and found it both “enlightening and totally crazy; it made me see everything different.”[70]

The Unabomber campaign, carried out between 1978 and 1995, targeted individuals who stood for technological progress, and resulted in a range of injuries to twenty-three people and the deaths of three. It also publicized Kaczynski’s case against the technoindustrial system, which Kaczynski believes is society’s paramount problem, an all-encompassing, subjugating, destructive force that must be brought to an end through revolution.

In the media glare, Kaczynski was mainly portrayed as an eccentric madman who shunned civilization. That the Harvard-educated, once-brilliant mathematician and former Berkeley professor chose to live alone for twenty-five years in a ten-by-twelve-foot structure without electricity, running water, a car, or other amenities was incomprehensible to many.[71] During the lead up to the court case, Kaczynski’s cabin was depicted as evidence of his “insanity,” which was assumed to account for his violent acts and rejection of modern life. The cabin became an icon of the anarchistic rage he had enacted from its isolated interior.[72] To most, Ted Kaczynski represents the dystopian pole of social isolation, an indefensible variety of outsiderness.

As a beloved dignitary of American history, Thoreau is admired for his profound attunement to nature and for his living experiment in the cabin he built in 1845 at Walden Pond. He is the embodiment of New England, constituted by resolve, earthbound knowhow, Yankee independence, and a wild-is-the-wind spirit. Thoreau’s cabin conjures a mixture of nostalgic American dreams, from instinctual kinship with nature to the aspiration to personal freedom to every citizen’s phantom entitlement - the paradisiacal homestead. While Thoreau is also ‘America’s favorite civil disobedient,” he is not normally celebrated for his participation in the Underground Railroad or for the nearly violence-inciting antislavery speech he delivered after the rendition of refugee slave Anthony Burns in 1854.[73] Thoreau is foremost regarded as a naturalist with a gift for poetic language whose writings teach sensitivity to the perception of nature. Thoreau is the venerated voice of self-reliance presiding over a heritage of utopian individualists, the insider’s outsider.

In June 2008, Benning finished constructing his Kaczynski cabin and started assembling a library of more than one hundred titles that combines books Kaczynski read or owned with books that Benning was influenced by and that helped to focus his philosophical and artistic method of looking and listening.[74] Mounted on the walls of both cabins are copies of paintings by “outsider” artists, also made by Benning. He began copying to learn how to paint and turned to the work of artists who fascinated him in their obsessive pursuit of a particular vision in order to better understand their ways of seeing and composing.[75]

On the surface, Benning’s Two Cabins are night and day, invoking contradictory sets of reclusive intentions and divergent paths leading back out. Deeper inquiry reveals the Thoreau-Kaczynski equation to be inspired. Beyond differences, Benning’s engagement makes discernable a multitude of contacts between Thoreau’s and Kaczynski’s beliefs, political viewpoints, and experiences of seclusion. The apparent dichotomy loses its soundness as Benning’s formation artfully unfolds a complex articulation of practices of dissent, nonprescriptive ways of living, and the politics of solitude.

He praised wild mountains and winter forests for their domestic air.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson[76]

One thing about Thoreau keeps him very near to me: I refer to his lawlessness - his dissent - his going his own absolute road let hell blaze all it chooses.

— Walt Whitman[77]

From an early age, Henry David Thoreau spent a lot of time alone, reading and walking in the woods and meadows around his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts. The introspective twenty-year-old was “already preoccupied with the idea of a primitive, heroic life” as he finished his studies at Harvard College in 1837.[78] His junior year he had briefly boarded with radical Unitarian minister Orestes Brownson. Brownson’s interrogation of organized religion made a transforming impression on Thoreau, who characterized the six weeks as “an era in my life.”[79] At Harvard, he read modern German philosophy and Goethe and was “deeply impressed” by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s seminal essay, Nature.[80] Emerson delivered the keynote speech to Thoreau’s graduating class.[81] Later that year, the two befriended each other. Like Thoreau, Emerson held the discipline of looking in high regard: “The eye is the best of artists.”[82] On long walks, they discussed autonomy and the search for revelation in nature.

In 1838 Thoreau opened a small school in his parents’ house, and shortly after, he and his brother John founded a progressive independent elementary school. The same year, they took a two-week river journey through New Hampshire in a homemade boat, leaving behind “all time, all science, all history,” as they ventured into the wilderness.[83] In 1841, Thoreau closed the academy due to his brother’s poor health. The following January, John died from a case of lockjaw, and Thoreau entered an extended depression.

His friendship with Emerson had steadily intensified. Thoreau moved into the Emerson household, where he received room and board in exchange for doing chores and tutoring Ralph and Lydia’s son Waldo.[84] Emerson was enthused by Thoreau’s philosophical perception and encouraged his writing. Thoreau valued Emerson’s support and acumen. The living arrangement was mutually nourishing, but Thoreau’s independence was soon threatened; the relationship became increasingly burdened. Fourteen years senior, Emerson considered himself Thoreau’s mentor. Thoreau was annoyed to be pegged the perpetual apprentice. Their professional asymmetry created friction, as did their divergent temperaments. To Emerson, Thoreau seemed wild and militant in his fervor to translate principle into action, and Thoreau was at odds with Emerson’s strictly cerebral and overcivilized orientation. Although their friendship cooled after a decade or so, they were exuberantly attuned for several years.[85]

Both Thoreau and Emerson came to be prominent associates of American transcendentalism, which rejected religious doctrine in favor of individual intuition. They resisted the direction of modern industrial society in support of selfcultivation and communitarian ideals. They deemed nature the primary sustaining force for individual spiritual enrichment. Individual enlightenment was necessary for personal well-being and a prerequisite for contributing to a communally freethinking society. Their concept of individualism was not egoistic; its aim was particularized independence and, by extension, socially elevated conduct.

Thoreau’s philosophy inherently opposed prescription: “Fresh experience of the moment is critical to a life with principle.”[86] The sovereignty of individual conscience, thought to be achievable through introspection, was elemental. The notion that individual integrity alone should guide one’s actions was in direct conflict with democracy. Some critics of transcendentalist thought wondered where the “church of one” could possibly lead. Thoreau’s writing of the late 1840s would attest to his lack of faith that the majority could act justly - “People obey out of self-interest” - and to his disbelief that government was capable of acting conscientiously.[87] “Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then?”[88] He saw government as an expedient machine and idealized “a really free and enlightened State” that recognizes “the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived.”[89]

Thoreau’s intellectual growth was nurtured by ongoing discussions with friends and by the extensive reading he did in Emerson’s library. Although he developed within a circle, he did so by way of his own uncompromising path. More practically applied than most, he “interrogated every custom.”[90] He expressed sharp disagreement with overcivilized, conformist society and its “factory mode of production,” “general waste and extravagance,” and increasing division of labor, which narrowed people’s experience.[91] Thoreau passionately opposed the modern system that incessantly demanded an army of laborers and focused people’s lives on unrewarding work with superficial consumption as compensation. He regarded the Industrial Revolution as dangerous in its potential to destroy nature and wilderness, as well as for the institutional degradation of human values it ushered into society.

Thoreau’s skepticism about institutions extended to those he felt affinity with. He distrusted giving utopian principles institutional form, including alternatives to prevailing modes posed by the collective living models fashioned in the early 1840s. He and Emerson perceived the Fruitland and Brook Farm experiments to be artificially staged; Thoreau tersely declined an invitation to join the latter community: “I had rather keep bachelor’s hall in hell than go board in heaven.”[92] At the age of twenty-eight, he took to the woods.

Thoreau contends that his life at Walden Pond was not intended as an archetype, but was a private laboratory of undefined duration.[93] “I would not have any one adopt my mode of living on any account; for, beside that before he has fairly learned it I may have found out another for myself, I desire that there may be as many different persons in the world as possible; but I would have each one be very careful to find out and pursue his own way.”[94] He refuses to set an example while setting one.

Located one and a half miles outside of Concord, the site was isolated relative to living in town, but it was not remote. Thoreau stayed in close contact with his family and friends while living there. His two years at Walden were “a life of labor and study.”[95] Walden was in part an immersion in writing to distill experience, including the death of his brother. In A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, written at Walden, he memorialized the river journey he’d taken with John seven years earlier without ever mentioning his name. The “reflective reconstruction” became his first book, self-published in 1849 after four rejections from publishers.[96]

At Walden, Thoreau refined his insight from daily experiences into a preliminary manuscript he continued to ripen and revise for seven years after his departure. Walden; or, Life in the Woods was published in 1854.[97] Walden makes evident that Thoreau had little use for human companionship, social convention, or the “conveniences” of modern life. He sought intimacy with himself and company with nature. He sought autonomy, intensity, economy, simplicity, and variety of experience: “Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter?”[98]

Thoreau’s writing is rooted in lived experience. Walden the experiment and Walden the book illustrate his “principle in action” philosophy: precepts inspire active experience that calls for written consideration, which in turn arouses more action. Life at Walden was a milestone for Thoreau as an author and philosopher, and it clarified his model of living: the doctrine of the pilgrim. Feeling restless, he dispensed with the project at the beginning of the third year. “I left the woods for as good reason as I went there.... I had several more lives to live.” By way of example, Walden contrasts with the new religion of materialism. Walden does not prescribe, it bespeaks a call to life, to self-emancipation, and in so doing is as much a political treatise as any of Thoreau’s essays.[99]

Judging the subject unworthy of his attention, Thoreau was disinclined toward politics per se. “What is called politics is something so superficial and inhuman, that, practically, I have never fairly recognized that it concerns me at all.”[100] “Politics” and newspapers were merely interference, enemies of his chosen introspective path. That said, Thoreau’s view of nature was not as refuge but as sphere for philosophical, physical, spiritual, and personal action - he understood nature and society to be inextricable. Living a natural life did not exempt him from the responsibility of individual ethics or social constituency. On the contrary, Thoreau’s immersion in the natural environment was an essential agent for the emergence of his political perception; his mature political consciousness commenced in earnest within the contemplative life he clarified at Walden Pond.

Thoreau had stopped paying the local poll tax in 1842, because aiding and affirming a government that sanctioned slavery “violated his conscience.”[101] Arrested for nonpayment in July of 1846, he was put in the Concord jail. To his consternation, his debt was paid for him, and he was jailed for just one night; he refused to leave the cell and had to be kicked out. The experience was electrifying.

Two years later, he gave account: “It was like travelling into a far country, such as I had never expected to behold, to lie there for one night.... I saw yet more distinctly the State in which I lived. I saw to what extent the people among whom I lived could be trusted as good neighbors and friends; that their friendship was for summer weather only; that they did not greatly propose to do right; that they were a distinct race from me by their prejudices and superstitions... that in their sacrifices to humanity, they ran no risks, not even to their property.”[102]

Quaker writers had advanced the idea of disobeying the law as a religious imperative to oppose slavery and war; Thoreau proposed civil disobedience as a secular, individual ethic. His pioneering essay specifies the legitimate prerogative to not comply with laws one regards as unjust, to oblige the state to recognize your dissent, and to register an appeal to peers including agents of government. “If it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.”[103] Thoreau delivered “The Rights and Duties of the Individual in Relation to Government” at Concord Town Hall in 1848, aligning with nonresistance as put forth by his friend Amos Bronson Alcott, an antislavery activist. Thoreau soon shifted his position to one of resistance akin to Frederick Douglass’s violent defiance as selfdefense.[104] Signaling his radicalization, he renamed the lecture “Resistance to Civil Government” when it was published.[105] It was entitled “Civil Disobedience” after his death.[106] Just as he understood his defiance as an act, he also regarded paying tax as action. Simply because it was the norm did not make it benign - paying tax indicated an active choice to support the state. “When a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves... I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize.”[107]

Thoreau’s mother, Cynthia, and sister Helen were founding members of Concord’s Female Anti-Slavery Society. Concord’s proximity to Boston made it a fitting stop for the Underground Railroad. As was the case with other homes on Main Street, the Thoreaus’ served as a safe house for refugees traveling to Canada. Thoreau’s collaboration involved procuring passage for runaways, “whom I helped to forward toward the northstar,” and nursing back to health those who were too feeble or ill to travel.[108] The 1846 annual meeting of Concord’s Anti-Slavery Society was held at the cabin’s doorstop.[109]

In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, authorizing slaveholders and their bounty hunters to seize runaway slaves in the free states, including Massachusetts, where slavery had been illegal since the Revolutionary War. The law required all states to cooperate in returning escaped slaves to their “masters.” Anyone providing food or harbor to a fleeing slave was subject to six months’ imprisonment and a thousand-dollar fine. The law made marshals who did not detain alleged runaways liable for a thousand-dollar fine and offered bonuses to those who enforced it.

Thoreau was at home in nature and spent a minimum of four hours daily walking the countryside. His practice of walking was one of external discovery and internal meditation; his walks were sacred. According to Emerson, “He had no walks to throw away on company.”[110] As industry progressively encroached, Thoreau noted in his journal that it was impossible to go walking in the Concord woods in any season during daylight hours without hearing the sound of axes.[111] “Thank God they cannot cut down the clouds!”[112] He began walking in moonlight to ensure tranquility and observe the way the light of the moon affected the land and the town. Slavery continued to disturb his attention: “Who can be serene in a country where both the rulers and the ruled are without principle? The remembrance of my country spoils my walk. My thoughts are murder to the State, and involuntarily go plotting against her.”[113]

In 1854, Anthony Burns, a fugitive slave from Virginia, was arrested and put on trial in Boston. Burns was the third test case to occur in Massachusetts. Shadrah Minkins had fled north from Virginia and was arrested in 1851. The armed Boston Vigilance Committee, led by transcendentalist minister Theodore Parker, activist Lewis Hayden, and a group of black antislavery protesters, successfully rescued him.[114] Two months later, much to the chagrin of Boston abolitionists, escaped slave Thomas Sims was captured and given back to his so-called master without intervention. The nineteen-year-old Burns escaped to Boston in 1853 and worked at a clothing shop until his sudden arrest by marshals in May of the following year. This was a calculated move by the government to reassert the Fugitive Slave Act. A group of abolitionists and protesters tried to rescue Burns, and a courthouse guard was killed in the failed raid. Burns’s trial lasted three days, during which demonstrations protesting rendition grew and federal troops arrived to show their strength in the streets. When the court announced the decision, the city was placed under martial law until Burns was put on a ship back to Virginia. Thousands of protesters lined the path to the harbor, held in check by troops.

The case was a lightning rod of incitement for the abolitionist movement, for the Underground Railroad, for Boston, and for Thoreau. After Burns was extradited, Thoreau responded with fury, delivering the ironically titled “Slavery in Massachusetts” at a prominent abolitionist rally on July 4, 1854. The gathering subverted the traditional Independence Day activities by calling attention to the indignity of Burns’s return and Boston’s dishonor, bringing together militant objectors Stephen S. Foster, Reverend John Pierpont, and Sojourner Truth.[115] To boisterous objections from the crowd, estimated in the thousands, William Lloyd Garrison burned copies of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the court decision on Burns. Thoreau seconded a call for the dissolution of a Union that condoned slavery.[116] Such a weighty, incendiary, and highly public action was unprecedented for Thoreau, who was essentially reclusive and normally delivered talks on nature to local audiences. With the exception of “Civil Disobedience,” he had confined his antislavery agenda to working behind the scenes for the Railroad and supporting more outspoken abolitionists.

Walden was to be published within a month of the July Fourth rally. Excerpts were serialized in local newspapers. Anticipation was mounting in literary circles, and Thoreau was on the cusp of being taken seriously. His participation in the assembly was timely. Just as his budding reputation as a man of letters lent currency to the cause, the cause gave him a platform on which to link the personal responsibility and freedom he extolled in Walden with every person’s individual freedom and the moral imperative to overthrow slavery. The link between words and convictions was irreducible. In unison, Thoreau became visible as a social critic and a naturalist philosopher.

”Slavery in Massachusetts” is Thoreau’s most combative and inciting essay. He berates the “pernicious influence” of the press on civil affairs, as well as the public’s endless appetite for newspapers: “Are these the Flags of our Union?” With little exception, the Boston press supported the Fugitive Slave Act. He demands a complete overhaul of the press to purge its ubiquitous corruption and collaboration with the powers that be, and proposes boycott as an immediate solution within every person’s reach: “Could slavery suggest a more complete servility than some of these journals exhibit?” Here as in all of his political essays, Thoreau frankly scorns the passive acquiescence of his fellow citizens, indicting them for taking the path of least resistance and for not acting on behalf of justice. Heatedly, he challenges the government’s and the courts’ disingenuous adherence to the document of law and not the spirit. “The judges and lawyers... and all men of expediency, try this case by a very low and incompetent standard. They consider, not whether the Fugitive Slave Law is right, but whether it is what they call constitutional .... The question is, not whether you or your grandfather, seventy years ago, did not enter into an agreement to serve the Devil, and that service is not accordingly now due; but whether you will not now, for once and at last, serve God - in spite of your own past recreancy, or that of your ancestor - by obeying that eternal and only just CONSTITUTION, which He, and not any Jefferson or Adams, has written in your being.”[117] Thoreau abruptly shifts toward the end of the essay: describing his encounter with the first pond lily of the season, he is reminded that purity resides in “the slime and muck of earth,” and “that Nature has been partner to no Missouri Compromise. I scent no compromise in the fragrance of the waterlily.” Reflecting faith in nature’s capacity for renewal, he evokes the enduring cycle of growth, sounding the belief that social justice will eventually reign.

Thoreau was not one to join organizations, even abolitionist ones. Writing was his trench. Imbedded in his scathing critique of slavery-sanctioning society are multiple calls for revolution of the mind and revolutionary action. By 1854, it was clear he believed violence would be necessary in the fight to overthrow slavery.

Thoreau’s response to the tenth-anniversary questionnaire from his Harvard class reads: “I am a Schoolmaster - a private Tutor, a Surveyor - a Gardener, a Farmer - a Painter, I mean a House Painter, a Carpenter, a Mason, a Day-Laborer, a Pencil- Maker, a Glass-paper Maker, A Writer, and sometimes a Poetaster.”[118] On writing this, he reflected, “The fact is I am a mystic - a transcendentalist - & a natural philosophyer to boot. Now I think of it - I should have told them at once I was a transcendentalist - that would have been the shortest way of telling them they would not understand my explanations.”[119]

Thoreau never committed to one vocation: he had taught, lectured, published, and would invent a superior type of lead for the family pencil business, as well as become a land surveyor delimiting parcels for farmers and, somewhat incongruously, for logging enterprises. But he was never to make his living as an author. The literary market was largely hostile to his work; only two books were published during his life. A Week met with harsh critical reception and sold fewer than three hundred of the thousand copies printed, and Walden, which was reviewed more favorably than not, took five years to sell out the first printing of two thousand and did not go into a second printing until several years later. Thoreau’s work was meaningful in certain New England circles, but his reputation remained relatively local in his time. He could have made a living as an author and lecturer, following in the footsteps of Emerson, but to Emerson’s dismay Thoreau did not embrace that direction. A nativist at heart, Thoreau was antagonistic to New York and London literary culture. He was notoriously independent and resolute about his writing, refusing to be edited. He sought to make a living apart from writing. “If you would get money as a writer or lecturer, you must be popular, which is to go down perpendicularly.”[120] He wanted an audience, but felt that whatever succeeded with an audience was bad.[121] Despite the impression of Thoreau being in the thick of community and transcendentalist debate, he was solitary and individual in his actions. He was perceived as contrary, and his unconditional commitment to his convictions did not win him social standing. Even when his reputation was more established, his wild-card image persevered - he was never offered a professorship or an academic chair. His opinion of higher education probably secured exclusion: “What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free meandering brook.”[122] Thoreau’s struggle to reconcile vocation with survival - to function in a society whose values were more and more at odds with his own - imbued his socially vested critique with pressing personal content.

In an 1854 lecture, he vehemently expressed the existential and ethical crisis he perceived in the ideology of materialism and its counterpart of aimless work for the sake of money. At the outset of “Life Without Principle” Thoreau warns, “I will leave out all the flattery, and retain all the criticism.”[123] Incensed that profit has become king, he lambasts the collective embrace of working to make a living and nothing more, which he regards as idle, a form of death. He rails against low aims, the trivial obsessions of his neighbors, the news of the street, private property, commerce, slavery, foreign interests eclipsing local ones, and the disingenuous understanding of freedom that “this nation of politicians” bespeaks.[124] He laments the loss of the intellectual realm and of human dignity and morality. He characterizes the California gold rush as a black spot on the country’s history and “the greatest disgrace on mankind.” Thoreau seethes with fury throughout: “Even if we grant that the American has freed himself from a political tyrant, he is still the slave of an economical and moral tyrant.”[125]

His argument is personal, disclosing his lived experience in Concord, speaking to his neighbors about themselves,[126] and passing devastating judgment on his fellow citizens, the country, and humankind. “I do not need the police of meaningless labor to regulate me.... If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.”[127] Whatever limited hope he harbors shows only when he speaks of the natural world and of future generations, which, he concedes, perhaps may choose to liberate themselves from the autocracy of the market economy.

Three years later, in 1857, Thoreau attended a speech by the abolitionist John Brown, and the two met informally. Brown believed the violence of slaveholding had to be met with violence in order to free slaves. Thoreau was deeply impressed with the integrity Brown brought to the cause and became an active supporter, despite the fact that the majority of abolitionists were hostile to Brown’s strategies, considering him extreme. The two men met again in May of 1859 when Brown spoke at Concord Town Hall, several months before his attack on the federal arsenal stored at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, where he allegedly sought to incite and arm a slave revolt. At Harper’s Ferry, four days of battle claimed ten of Brown’s party, including two of his sons, as well as two soldiers and six townspeople, the mayor among them. Brown was captured and tried for murder, conspiracy, and treason. Six men in his party were also captured and subsequently executed. Thoreau saw Brown’s actions as heroic. Brown’s defense attorneys hoped he would plead insanity to avoid a death sentence. Unwilling to recant his actions, he staunchly refused.[128] The noble demeanor with which he delivered his speech at the end of the trial helped transformed him into a martyr. “Had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so- called great, or in behalf of any of their friends, either father, mother, brother, sister, wife, or children, or any of that class, and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right; and every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.”[129]

When Thoreau first delivered his rousing defense of Brown’s character in Concord, two weeks after the raid at Harper’s Ferry, the selectmen refused to ring the town bell, so he rang it himself.[130] Days later, he gave the same speech to a large audience in Boston, replacing the scheduled speaker, Frederick Douglass, who needed to retreat from public visibility at the time. He read the speech “as if it burned him” at the Concord memorial he had helped organize on the day Brown was hung.[131] “A Plea for Captain Brown” was a strong corrective both to newspaper accounts and to majority public opinion. The newspapers labeled Brown mad and portrayed his group as “deluded fanatics,” “crazed,” “mistaken men,” involved in a “misguided, wild, and apparently insane effort.” Thoreau conjured a different person altogether: “A man of rare common sense and directness of speech, as of action; a transcendentalist above all, a man of ideas and principles.” “He was the most American of us all.... He was more than a match for all the judges that American voters, or office-holders of whatever grade, can create. He could not have been tried by a jury of his peers, because his peers did not exist.”[132] Thoreau likened the profound effect that Brown’s resolve, preparedness, and courage had on him to that of a “sublime spectacle.”

Again, the single expression of hopefulness in Thoreau’s tribute lay in the parallel he draws between natural reproduction and political evolution, presciently invoking the long-term consequences of Brown’s daring: “Such do not know that like the seed is the fruit, and that, in the moral world, when good seed is planted, good fruit is inevitable, and does not depend on our watering and cultivating; that when you plant, or bury, a hero in his field, a crop of heroes is sure to spring up. This is a seed of such force and vitality, that it does not ask our leave to germinate.”[133] The Harper’s Ferry mission was largely deemed a disaster in the short term, yet it played a major role in turning public opinion in the Northern states. Ultimately, it helped catalyze the Civil War.

Optimism was progressively restricted in Thoreau’s political speeches, but he nevertheless remained an idealist. Beginning around 1851, he cast his formidable power of natural observation in a more scientific, less transcendentalist manner. “Facts must be learned directly and personally.”[134] Thoreau had always mined his journal extensively when composing lectures, essays, and books, including Walden, and he reconceived the journal as a primary literary form in itself, which increasingly became a reservoir of research. He started working as a land surveyor the same year, which “had the advantage that it led him continually into new and secluded grounds.”[135]

Thoreau was no more seen as a radical in his own time than he is now. Obituaries announced the death of “the genial writer on the natural scenery of New England”... “the charming writer”... “the eccentric author.” Upon his death, his occupation was officially registered as natural historian. His political essays were for the most part ignored when he was alive and were the last of his works to be published after he died. Perhaps the combination of naturalist rambling the woods and confrontational political theorist did not compute for those beyond the few who knew his diversity in person. The tendency to interpret such contrasts as conflicts is a persistent one. For Thoreau, action and philosophy are equally essential to a natural life, which is indivisible from the practice of a societal life.

I thought of Ted’s cabin, which his lawyers had brought to Sacramento on a flatbed truck, planning to show it to the jury and ask the question: would anyone but a certifiable lunatic choose such a primitive abode? What they did not bring, of course, were the forests and rivers and mountains Kaczynski loved.

— William Finnegan[136]

The more intimate you are with nature, the more you appreciate its beauty. It’s a beauty that consists not only in sights and sounds but in an appreciation of... the whole thing. I don’t know how to express it. What is significant is that when you live in the woods, rather than just visiting them, the beauty becomes part of your life rather than something you just look at from the outside.

— Ted Kaczynski[137]

As a working-class couple with strong intellectual interests, Turk and Wanda Kaczynski stood apart from their neighbors. They were ardent readers who debated philosophy, politics, and current events and wrote occasional letters to the editor. Their first son, Theodore, showed signs of a brilliant mind early in life, skipping grades on more than one occasion.[138] His mother came from a poor, low-status background and was concerned with social standing. Ted’s high I.Q. held the promise of respectability and prestige, and his parents began pressuring Ted to achieve.[139]

His intelligence isolated him from his peers, and he became progressively introverted.[140] The innate sociability his pediatrician, teachers, and guidance

counselor witnessed in him until he was ten years old or so diminished soon thereafter.[141] Kaczynski found it increasingly difficult to make and maintain relationships outside his family, and social insecurity took hold.

In high school, Kaczynski was encouraged to apply to Harvard; he began his undergraduate studies at the elite university in 1958 on scholarship. Being younger than other students and from a working-class background, he felt somewhat out of place. “Up to the time when I entered Harvard University at age sixteen I used to dream of escaping from civilization and going to live in some wild place. During the same period, my distaste for modern life grew as I became increasingly aware that people in industrial society were reduced to the status of gears in a machine, that they lacked freedom and were at the mercy of the large organizations that controlled the conditions under which they lived.”[142]

Several years later, upon nearing the end of his graduate studies at the University of Michigan, Kaczynski made a plan: he would teach just long enough to save money to go live in the wilderness. As an assistant professor at Berkeley, he taught mathematics for two years before telling his boss, “I’m tired of teaching math that is going to be used for destroying the environment.”[143] His father, an outspoken pacifist, encouraged his resignation. “Shut down the war machine,” he advised: stop helping students to design weapons of war including nuclear bombs.[144]

By 1969, Kaczynski was writing letters to magazine editors about technology’s effects on autonomy. In 1971, he wrote a twenty-three-page essay warning that “continued scientific and technical progress will inevitably result in the extinction of individual liberty.”[145] That text would later play a role in his capture due to the resemblance of some phrases and passages in Industrial Society and Its Future (ISAIF). He also revealed in a note to technology critic Jacques Ellul that he had read Ellul’s The Technological Society at least six times.[146] He referred to it as his “bible.”[147]

Kaczynski’s time at Berkeley coincided with the pinnacle of antiwar, antiestablishment revolt on campus. Many pundits regard his antagonism for the system and retreat to the woods as a common outcome of the sixties. Alternatively, philosopher and journalist Alston Chase believes Kaczynski’s thinking took shape while he was steeped in the cold-war-era general-education curriculum at

Harvard, which reinforced a “crisis of reason” and “culture of despair.”[148] Chase traces the seeds for Kaczynski’s plans for violent revenge on society to his last year at grad school in Michigan. At the time, Kaczynski’s journal described a series of events that led to his first fantasy of killing someone, specifically a psychiatrist. The idea functioned as something of a revelation, liberating him from moral standards. He would later write in his journal that “there is no logical justification for morality.”[149]

Kaczynski considers aversion to violence to be the result of brainwashing and regards ethical norms as social constructions that serve the system. “Modern society uses various forms of propaganda to teach people to be frightened and horrified by violence because the technoindustrial system needs a population that is timid, docile, and afraid to assert itself, a population that will not make trouble or disrupt the orderly functioning of the system.... By teaching people that violence is wrong (except, of course, when the system itself uses violence via the police or military), the system maintains its monopoly on physical force and thus keeps all power in its own hands.”[150]

Kaczynski and his younger brother, David, had always been close. As adults they shared antipathy for the values of consumer society and a yearning for wilderness. After Kaczynski left Berkeley, the brothers took a trip to Wyoming in search of affordable, remote land. Eventually they went north to Canada, where they found a piece of property, but their land application was denied. David moved to Great Falls, Montana, in 1970. During a visit Kaczynski made the following year, they found a suitable lot four miles from the nearest town, in Scapegoat Wilderness, a mountainous region just west of the continental divide.[151] Kaczynski had hoped for something more isolated but settled, and directly began building a cabin. His brother never lived there, eventually finding a more secluded spot in the West Texas desert.[152]

Kaczynski migrated to the woodland mountains of Montana at age twenty- nine. He had limited capacity for human companionship, despised the status quo, and renounced modern society and its “comforts.” He craved personal freedom, wild nature, seclusion, and silence. He aimed to actualize his romantic fantasy of the wilderness life and regarded as a mission the acquisition of skills to emulate a primitive way of life that obtained from the local environment. He learned how to subsist on the land, identify edible plants, raise vegetables, and hunt and preserve meat. His journals attest to the intensity of his new self-sufficient way, and the extreme satisfaction and exuberance it gave him as lifelong fantasies became daily realities.

Throughout the seventies, Kaczynski spent periods away from Montana working at unskilled jobs. He needed to earn money and, to some degree, still hoped for social connection, friendship, and perhaps even female companionship, of which he had little experience. In 1978, traveling to his home state of Illinois, he stopped in Evanston, where he delivered his first bomb, then went on to Lombard, where his family resided at the time. After returning to Montana, with the exception of another trip in the mid-eighties, once more in search of isolated land in Canada, and the occasions he traveled to either mail or deliver his ingeniously crafted parcel bombs, he stayed put.

Although Kaczynski spent most of his time alone, he generally biked to Lincoln, the closest town, every few weeks on errands. Typically he visited the library to read and talk about books and politics with his closest friend in town, librarian Sherri Wood.[153] He bought groceries at the market and stopped by the hardware store. He visited the post office and the bank. He’d stop to say hello to the Garland sisters, who ran the country store where he bought supplies. Sometimes he left homegrown vegetables for Carol Biowars at her real estate office where he parked his bike.

After his capture, many townspeople refused to talk to the press; the majority who did portrayed him, in sharp contrast to the media stereotype, as courteous and consistently pleasant. “Later people claimed he smelled bad, but I never smelled him. He seemed quite gentle. You know, he was soft-spoken, and he had never done harm to us up here. He was just an excellent neighbor.”[154] The principled Wood told the FBI after his arrest, “You will not see his reading list. That is confidential.”[155] Only a couple, including Wood, fathomed the extent of his intelligence.

Kaczynski corresponded with his mother and brother regularly. After moving to Montana, he increasingly blamed his parents for his social ineptness, and wrote to them detailing instances of what he considered psychological abuse. By 1983, they were largely estranged. “The only way he spoke his mind,” said his brother, “or related to people was through letters.”[156] His relationship with David was also under some strain, but their correspondence improved in the mid-eighties, until David announced in 1989 that he was moving to Schenectady, New York, with his then girlfriend, Linda Patrik. Kaczynski was furious with David’s decision to suddenly opt for a normative middle-class way of life, and temporarily broke off contact. When their terminally ill father killed himself in 1990, Kaczynski was alienated from the whole family.

In 1988 and several times between 1991 and 1993, Kaczynski attempted to consult with mental-health professionals, purportedly to get treatment for chronic insomnia.[157] In the summer of 1991, he wrote to his brother confiding that because his “social self-confidence” was “destroyed” he had become an outsider. “The fear of rejection - based on bitter experience both at home and at school - has ruined my life... except for a few years that I spent alone in the woods, largely out of contact with people.”[158]

Kaczynski began writing a journal when he was a teenager. The Montana diaries[159] reflect his love for living in the woods and his intimacy with the details of the surrounding nature, recording daily life from picking berries and plants to the number of shots expended hunting to the number of radishes coming up in his garden - even recipes for the stews he made. They contain a high volume of annotated notes from books, periodicals, and newspapers about topics ranging from the government’s development of electronic battle sensors, to life in the pre-industrial English countryside, to genetic-engineering predictions, to the psychological effects of technical training on boys. The journals chronicle his fury over development in the area and noise from logging machines, new construction, trucks, off-road bikers, snowmobiles, and airplanes that signaled the encroachment of technoindustrial society’s reach into his beloved mountains, ruining the quietude he delighted in. “You understand, it is not the noise in itself that bothers me, but what that noise signifies. It is the voice of the Octopus - the octopus that will allow nothing to exist outside the range of its control.”[160]

Journal entries document his incremental decisions to take revenge on the system, beginning with local monkey wrenching and initial plans to act close to home; he considered shooting loggers and motorcyclists and even set himself up to do so, but for whatever reasons did not follow through. A larger plan of revenge on society had been gestating. His journal fluctuates between contentment and rage.[161]

JULY 24, 1979: The 22nd was very bad for jets - heard many. Yesterday was quite good - heard only 8 jets. Today was good in early morning, but later in morning there was aircraft noise almostwithoutintermission for, I would estimate, about an hour. Then there was a very loud sonic boom. This was the last straw and it reduced me to tears of impotent rage.

APRIL 29, 1983: After raising my coat and making a layer of branches to protect myself from the wet floor, I ate and went to sleep on the slope that was up higher from the camp. The view seen from this slope is extremely beautiful.... After resting for a while, I walked barefoot from one side to the other of the hill and forest that borders with it, in a very silent way. I like very much to walk slowly and silently through the wild. The following day I went up the mountain at daybreak. I felt very happy and energetic.... I was very sensitive to the silence, to the beauty, and to the mystery of the wild.[162]

Growing up, Kaczynski imagined wilderness and civilization as discrete entities, that he could free himself from institutional reach by living someplace remote. As he witnessed the incursions into nature close-up, his dream of refuge shattered. He had found fulfillment and happiness during his first Montana years, specifically on long camping journeys he took far away from his cabin. Kaczynski’s solitude in wilderness clarified a key stake in his fight against consumer society - authentic connection with irreplaceable beauty and space. His journals reflect his realization that the tranquility wilderness offered was on the verge of disappearance.[163] For a loner religiously dependent on wilderness, its bondage and threat of destruction seemed life threatening.

”The best place to me was the largest remnant of this plateau that dates from the tertiary age.... That was the best spot until the summer of 1983. That summer there were too many people around my cabin so I decided I needed some peace. I went back to the plateau and when I got there I found they had put a road right through the middle of it. You can’t imagine how upset I was. It was from that point on I decided that rather than trying to acquire further wilderness skills, I would work on getting back at the system.”[164]

Despite Kaczynski’s assertion, summer 1983 does not accurately mark his shift into vengeance. He had set six bombs during the previous five years, none of which, according to journal entries leaked by the FBI after his arrest, had performed as effectively as he had hoped. Kaczynski is reputed to have an unusually precise memory and to be a stickler for detail and fact. He has carefully documented his life in writing to ensure his experiences do not disappear. After his arrest, he labored intensively to disprove the misrepresentations by his family and the media. It seems doubtful that on his decision to get back at society he misremembers his own chronology. Perhaps his recollection alludes to a shift of motive, from seeking relief for enduring personal anger over the shrinking possibility for either integration or escape, underpinned by antipathy to society, to a resolute desire to exact retribution on technoindustrial society, with revolutionary cause in mind.

Contingent and subjective, solitude has the capacity to exhilarate, cause despair, and everything in between. For a time, isolation reduced the pressures Kaczynski felt, but overall it intensified them. He failed to evade the reverberations of family bonds, and cultural expansion threw a monkey wrench into his design. By 1982, his estrangement from his family had intensified, as had his anger and despair. His internal narratives increasingly gripped him and the reality of no exit took hold. He had been branded an outsider and felt as such. He had chosen seclusion in part because he suffered from chronic social isolation. Kaczynski’s primary dialogues were with books and published accounts of events that he debated in his journal. Without counterpoint, the mind has difficulty finding purchase. Isolated existence becomes global. The nature of Kaczynski’s solitude shifted from serenity to wrath. At some unpinpointable time in his state of social deprivation, people had become an abstraction for him and Kaczynski waged war by targeting individuals as emblems of the technological system’s “sinister” dimensions.

The FBI attributed sixteen parcel bombs to the Unabomber, beginning in 1978. The fourth one, sent to United Airlines president Percy Addison Wood in June 1980, was the first to bear a signature. From then on, the letters “FC” were found punched or drilled into an indestructible fragment of each device, permitting the bureau to link the bombings and analyze the series with the hope of ascertaining a motive. The bombs grew increasingly sophisticated and devastating. On February 20, 1987, the disguised Unabomber was glimpsed placing a box behind a computer store in Salt Lake City. The FBI’s sketch of the hooded suspect wearing sunglasses captured public attention. No FC-authored bombs turned up between March 1987 and May 1993. In June, FC resurfaced, and in a letter to the New York Times claimed responsibility for recent attacks that had seriously injured geneticist Charles Epstein and, two days later, computer engineer David Gelernter. Normally terrorists connect their acts to demands, but no one had answered for the fifteen-year sequence of bombs until the letter announcing the existence of the anarchist group FC.

One reason it was so difficult to apprehend the bomber is that by carefully keeping to himself, Kaczynski avoided the chance of unwittingly disclosing secrets. Primarily, though, he eluded pattern by continually changing his bombmaking technique and targeting methods, as well as locations. His motive was indecipherable. Some of his early victims seemed accidental. They didn’t fit the semblance of a pattern that FC finally articulated in another letter to the Times in late April of 1995. “We would not want anyone to think that we have any desire to hurt professors who study archaeology, history, literature or harmless stuff like that. The people we are out to get are the scientists and engineers, especially in critical fields like computers and genetics.”[165]

On April 24, 1995, FC’s most powerful device killed timber-industry lobbyist Gilbert Murray. A letter boasting of the newly realized capacity to make stronger, farther-reaching bombs, “free of limitations on the size and shape,” arrived at the Times the same day.[166] The letter proposed a deal: publish ISAIF, and FC stops its terrorism. “By terrorism we mean actions motivated by a desire to influence the development of a society and intended to cause injury or death to human beings. By sabotage we mean similarly motivated actions intended to destroy property without injuring human beings. The promise we offer is to desist from terrorism. We reserve the right to engage in sabotage.”[167]

After breaking his silence, Kaczynski as FC sent a dozen letters to public figures and periodicals during the next two years, including geneticists Richard Roberts and Phillip Sharp, Gelernter, Penthouse, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Tom Tyler, a social psychologist, to whom he enclosed a copy of ISAIF, requesting his response to its content.[168] Kaczynski corresponded with Earth First! anarchist John Zerzan for more than a year before his arrest.[169] His 1995 communique to Scientific American clarifies his position:

Scientists and engineers constantly gamble with human welfare, and we see today the effects of some of their lost gambles: ozone depletion, the greenhouse effect, cancer-causing chemicals to which we cannot avoid exposure, accumulating nuclear waste for which a sure method of disposal has not yet been found, the crowding, noise and pollution that have followed industrialization, massive extinction of species and so forth.... We emphasize the negative PHYSICAL consequences of scientific advances often are completely unforeseeable.... But far more difficult to foresee are the negative SOCIAL consequences of technological progress. The engineers who began the industrial revolution never dreamed their work would result in the creation of an industrial proletariat or the economic boom and bust cycle.[170]

Kaczynski’s writings were to become the core of the Unabomber case: they led to his arrest, they were the primary evidence the prosecution would rely on in proving his guilt, and they spoke to his motivations and mental state, his philosophy and politics.[171] Even his sanity, once it was put in question, hinged on his written record.

Kaczynski’s long-term motives stemmed from his absolute antipathy to contemporary society and its ideology of scientific and technological progress. Personal rage unquestioningly played a key role, as did his paradoxical relationship to isolation. Kaczynski chose his targets based on a mixture of symbolic and concrete objectives, combining associations from his private history and literature with public figures who promoted technoindustrial expansion.[172] His anger seems to have been so entangled that it is impossible to decipher the undercurrent of his actions or know to what degree private and public distress were symbiotic.

In his journals, he explained his perspective and purpose. In the event he was caught, he did not want to be psychologized or depicted as sick. “I intend to start killing people. If I am successful at this, it is possible that, when I am caught... there will be some speculation in the news media as to my motives for killing.... If some speculation occurs, they are bound to make me out to be a sickie, and to ascribe to me motives of a sordid or ‘sick’ type. Of course, the term ‘sick’ in such a context represents a value judgment.... This powerful bias should be borne [in mind] in reading any attempts to analyze my psychology.”[173] Indeed, the question of Kaczynski’s sanity was to become the salient issue framing his public image, his court case, and its outcome.[174]

The news media swarmed around the arrested Unabomber suspect. Journalists scrambled for biographical puzzle pieces and dramatic family narrative to compose a particular portrait of the suspect. The question was not, Who is Ted Kaczynski but Who is this madman?

Kaczynski was quickly overloaded with labels guaranteed to repel majority opinion, which pathologized eccentricity as menacing and confused loneness with mental illness. According to the multitude of headlines and stories, he was “ripe- smelling, and wild haired. A misfit hermit. A mad genius. A Luddite sociopath. An evil coward.” Reporters looked under every rock for former neighbors, classmates, dorm mates, and people who had casually encountered Kaczynski - whoever was willing to verify his abnormality. He was “the ultimate loner,” who acted “like a frightened puppy” and “stared at the ground when he walked.”[175] “At Harvard, “his room was filthy.” “One of the strangest people I met at Harvard.” “Why we didn’t put two and two together and say this guy needs help, I don’t know.”[176] Kaczynski’s classmates were indiscriminately interviewed, whether they knew him well or at all was immaterial. Reporters neglected to situate comments from Harvard classmates in the larger fact that neither Kaczynski’s appearance nor his behavior was unusual. Napoleon Williams, one of his two close friends there, remarked, “He was a typical mathematician. Most young, talented mathematicians tend to be unkempt, ascetic, awkward, shy, totally wrapped up in their own world.”[177]

Like a group of high school bullies, the media attacked Kaczynski. This was simply business as usual for media agencies. According to the pulp paperback Mad Genius, which Time magazine hastily published after his arrest, “The press, in fact, was reveling in an embarrassment of riches - and some of the revelry got out of control. Someone had leaked David Kaczynski’s involvement in the news, and his home in Schenectady was overrun, his wife ambushed on the job.... Onetime object of his unrequited affections, Ellen Tarmichael, complained that she had photographers hanging off her trees. The media chased the story of Theodore Kaczynski’s life down every possible road.”[178]

For Kaczynski’s mother, Wanda, and brother, David, who, at the urging of David’s lawyers, aggressively promoted the belief that Ted suffered from mental illness his whole life, his life was exactly what was at stake.[179] They believed only an insanity plea could save Ted from the death penalty that Attorney General Janet Reno demanded at the insistence of President Clinton. Evidently, Kaczynski’s defense lawyers agreed.

Public defenders Quin Denvir and Judy Clarke carefully planned a mentaldefect defense that would portray Kaczynski as a paranoid schizophrenic. Denvir and Clarke considered his cabin to be Exhibit A and wanted it shipped from its temporary storage at Malmstrom Air Force Base, seventy miles from Lincoln, to Sacramento so the jury could witness the meager environment for themselves.[180] “This is not a A-frame in Tahoe,” Denvir said. “This is the rural equivalent of living in a box or out of a shopping cart. This is a very grim way of living.” Asked if the living conditions spoke to Kaczynski’s mental state, he said: “It speaks to everything about him.”[181] In anticipation of the pending trial, the cabin was transported for storage, ten minutes’ drive from the courthouse.

Knowing he was vehemently resistant to a defense based on impaired capacity, Kaczynski’s lawyers kept him ignorant of the extent of their strategy.[182] When, soon before the trial was to begin, he realized that they meant to depict him as a paranoid schizophrenic, he was adamant in his opposition and remained so during the following six weeks of jury selection.[183] Kaczynski had documented his rationale extensively to insure against being portrayed as crazy. Clearly, he did not respect medical authority or agree with the classification system of behavior and mental deficiencies that it advances.

On the first day of court, January 5, 1998, Kaczynski petitioned the presiding judge, Garland E. Burrell Jr., to have his defense attorneys replaced. It was nineteen months after his arrest, the jury was in place, and Judge Burrell did not want the trial delayed. He ruled against the defendant’s request as “untimely.” Since Kaczynski “had been denied both the counsel of his choice and the control of his own defense,” he then invoked his Sixth Amendment right to represent himself.[184] Judge Burrell insisted on a series of psychological examinations to determine his competence. Kaczynski agreed and was, not surprisingly, found competent. Both the defense and the prosecution filed briefs conceding that he had a constitutional right to represent himself. Nonetheless, Judge Burrell went out on a judicial limb and denied Kaczynski’s request, again, as ‘untimely.’”[185]

The prosecutors were worried that Burrell’s ruling opened the door to a guilty verdict being overturned on appeal. But Kaczynski felt cornered; either he could go through the trial being branded crazy or he could plead guilty. He offered a guilty plea to avoid the trial and the death penalty, but “insisted on reserving the right to appeal the judge’s ruling that upheld the legality of the search of his Montana cabin.”[186] His proposal was rejected; he could proceed with a defense he found “unendurable” or plead guilty unconditionally and relinquish all rights to appeal in exchange for life imprisonment.[187] Stonewalled, Kaczynski tried to hang himself in his cell that night. The next day, he accepted the plea bargain, and the trial did not happen.

The court chose to preclude any possibility that Kaczynski would use the trial as a soapbox to publicize his anti-technology logic. Public degradation of Kaczynski’s autonomous, secluded life in the woods played an important role in the larger scenario of “pathologizing radical dissent”[188] that was enacted by forces Kaczynski identifies in ISAIF as some of the crucial protagonists in the technoindustrial system’s control of society - propaganda, behaviorism and psychiatry, and the courts. Kaczynski as “psychopath” was more palatable to the public than the fact that he’d acted from rational subversive conviction.[189] And this in spite of his being declared “sane” by court-appointed “experts.” After all, his philosophy of autonomy challenges nearly everything dominant society takes for granted.

Regardless of crime or guilt, the rights to consideration in court as instituted by the Sixth Amendment are the principal means to ensure a defendant not be target to vindictiveness. The defendant is an equal, no matter what. As a check against state power, jury trials depend on proper deliberation by peers, and state power is a check against the vengeful sentiment of public opinion and the angry mob. It is worth belaboring the interlocking media and court scenarios so as not to gloss over the gravity of the results. The state, the legal system, and the media effectively linked arms to railroad and muzzle Kaczynski. In the process, the jury, which stands for citizenry, was also silenced. The courtroom is a moral classroom. When the state exercises moral law immorally, it undermines its legitimacy and calls its motives into question.

Since May 5, 1998, Kaczynski has been imprisoned in the federal government’s premiere Supermax penitentiary in Colorado, ADX Florence. ADX is a high-tech control-unit facility designed for keeping high-security prisoners in solitary confinement under constant surveillance. There Kaczynski lives in extreme isolation under twenty-three-hour-a-day lockdown. His cell, which is a bit smaller than the cabin he lived in, is austerely appointed with immovable concrete fixtures - a bed, a desk, and a stool; a four-inch-by-four-foot window positioned high up the wall permits a limited view of sky and roof. Prisoners are allowed to exercise alone one hour a day while shackled in a small outdoor pen with tall concrete walls obstructing views of the outside. Human contact is minimal, including with prison personnel. Food trays are pushed through a slot into each cell. Telecommunications are prohibited. Visits are conducted through a thick glass partition. Written correspondence is permitted (but screened).

Solitary confinement is widely used in the U.S. for hard cases and high- security prisoners. Mentally ill offenders are customarily placed in solitary, a.k.a. “the hole.” The U.S. boasts the most control-unit penitentiaries of anywhere in the world, and the most technically advanced ones. In penal practice, extreme isolation has proved to foster memory loss, loss of focus, profound depression, existential crisis, changes to brain physiology, mental illness, and suicide - it is undeniably a form of psychological torture. Paradoxically, Pennsylvania Quakers originated the concept of solitary confinement in the late eighteenth century as a mode of prison reform, the idea being that a prisoner isolated in a stone cell with a Bible, would, through introspection, find the path to repentance. (Thoreau’s belief in individual conscience had its roots in Quaker thought.)

In this deprived circumstance, where one rarely speaks or hears his own voice, correspondence takes on extra weight. Kaczynski is an inexhaustible correspondent who answers each of the many letters he receives with characteristic fastidiousness. More than ever, letter writing is his primary medium for human exchange. Kaczynski’s dissent is now exclusively expressed in written form, his autodidactic focus rechanneled from bomb making to political theory.

Ironically, the duration of the Unabomber campaign proved both Kaczynski’s dispassion for his victims and his passionate abhorrence of technoindustrial society. While he did not attempt to publicly link his violent attacks to specific messages or demands, his paper trail testifies to the duration of his antipathy for and critical analysis of contemporary society, and his evolving appeal for a counterrevolution to the Technological Revolution. Why he chose not to connect the two publicly until 1993 is anyone’s guess. Perhaps he did not want to risk his campaign being cut short by getting caught. The Unabomber had been on hiatus since being spotted in 1987. When he recommenced with more potent bombs, they were accompanied by the announcement of FC. In the interim,

Kaczynski had been estranged from his family and repeatedly sought professional help for chronic insomnia, which may or may not have been his sole reason for seeking help. His promise to stop terrorism if ISAIF was published may well have been resolute.

One need not identify with Kaczynski in order to identify with and defend his status as a person. Kaczynski’s crimes cannot be reconciled with socially acceptable actions. There is no public record of him showing remorse or seeking absolution, and it is unlikely he will ever be collectively forgiven. Nor does he seek forgiveness, since the cause is his primary concern and the bombings were part of that. He is marked as unforgivable, raising key philosophical questions: does justice condemn the act or the agent? Is crime inseparable from the guilty party? Is condemnation absolute? Is justice vindictive?[190]

Incarcerated for life, Kaczynski continues to file legal briefs and appeals against the government when his rights are transgressed.[191] On the one hand, it seems surprising that someone who attacked society and killed people has any expectation that the courts will ever rule in his favor. On the other hand, if he and each of his cases are not given proper consideration, justice is cynical. Kaczynski may be strategically pushing the legal system in order to expose its orientation: that “punishment always remains imprisoned within the repetition of vengeance.”[192]

Punishment is the criminal’s right and disgrace. Without penalty, he has no way to understand his crimes. Punishment also reasserts the supremacy and durability of society and state. Kaczynski’s punishment neutralizes the mortal and moral disruption he executed and restores the acceptable protocols of violence. Kaczynski’s punishment is conceptual and empirical: permanent solitary confinement and ineradicable, wholesale condemnation. Widespread hatred is essential to the program.

Are other mortal crimes more comprehensible than Kaczynski’s? Insurgent crimes for warranted cause? Assassinations by the U.S. government? Are the casualties of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry more defensible than the Unabomber’s? Are violence and terrorism tolerable if the political objective is clear and worthy (in other words, if enough people agree with it)? Is it a particularity of American culture to assert outrage over individual crimes through vengeful punishment while sublimating governmental crimes as well as the public’s consent to them in both monetary and psychological ways?

Need actions of violence entirely discredit a person? Dr. David Skrbina notes in his introduction to Kaczynski’s collected writings: “The entire focus of this book is the problem of technology: where we stand today, what kind of imminent future we are facing, and what we ought to do about it. The challenge to the reader is to make a firm separation between the Unabomber crimes and a rational, in-depth, no-holds-barred discussion of the threat posed by modern technology. Kaczynski has much to offer to this discussion even if we accept that he was guilty of certain reprehensible crimes. We do ourselves no favors by ignoring him. His ideas have no less force, his arguments are none the weaker, simply because they issue from a maximum-security cell.”[193]

In a letter to Skrbina dated July 10, 2005, Kaczynski speculates, “A question has to be raised about the people who are promoting all this mad technological growth - those who do the research and those who provide the funds for research. Are they criminals? Should they be punished?”[194]

Parallels and intersections radiate from Benning’s Thoreau-Kaczynski juxtaposition. Thoreau’s disdain for “overcivilization” is echoed by Kaczynski’s antipathy for “oversocialization.”[195] Each man pursued wilderness until the point when preoccupations with their disagreements with society obligated them to redirect attention. Both were staunchly antireform. But Thoreau hailed independence in society, and Kaczynski declared independence from society. Thoreau’s social agency primarily took literary expression. Until his capture, Kaczynski’s violent attacks constituted his public voice.

Thoreau wrestled with the realization that American democracy is governed by public consent, placing grave weight on the individual and independent moral sense. He recognized the power and responsibility of “the fact that we now consent to social evil,”[196] and theorized civil disobedience as a method for officially denying assent to the government. Democracy implicates individuals in political guilt for “crimes” of the state.

Government is less relevant to Kaczynski, who believes that the technoindustrial system has commandeered society. For Kaczynski, social evil - dehumanization, decimation of freedoms, environmental destruction, etc. - is written into technology itself. He extends the notion of public political guilt beyond state crimes to the cataclysmic consequences of technological and scientific “progress” for the social and natural environment.

How does Thoreau’s concept of individual conscience as sovereign conjoin with Kaczynski’s self-appointed renegade mission?

Thoreau’s self-imposed isolation lasted for just over two years. His cabin was eventually dismantled, its parts recycled into farm buildings in the area.[197] Although he bid farewell to Walden, solitude remained a vital part of his daily life and practice his whole life. He died in 1862 after a cold he caught while counting tree rings in the woods worsened.

Kaczynski’s self-segregation continued for twenty-five years. His cabin, stored in Sacramento since his imprisonment, was transported in 2008 to Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. There, it has been displayed as an artifact in the exhibition “G-Men and Journalists: Top News Stories of the FBI’s First Century” at Newseum, a private institution financed by individual donors and media corporations.[198] Kaczynski lives in the epitome of the dehumanizing technoindustrial society he has argued against most of his life, his unending state of solitude no longer a choice.

Only when history undertakes to be turned into an art work and thus to become a purely artistic picture can it perhaps maintain the instincts or even arouse them.

— Friedrich Nietzsche[199]

I must tell you that mathematicians are not scientists, they are artists.

— Ted Kaczynski[200]

After building his Thoreau cabin, Benning installed some of the paintings he had recently been making of works by Bill Traylor, Mose Tolliver, and Henry Darger. The counterbalance was interesting, but over time he realized he wanted a wider opposition. When he brought Kaczynski into the picture, he was reminded of a structural solution he had used once before.

Twenty-seven years ago, Benning transcribed the diary of fellow Milwaukee resident and would-be assassin Arthur Bremer in his own handwriting.[201] Beginning on April 4, 1972, Bremer’s diary traces his travels from Milwaukee to New York and back, on to Canada, and then to Washington as he tracks President Nixon with intent to assassinate. It ends May 15, 1972, when, after failing to get Nixon, he instead shoots George Wallace. Benning’s transcription is one of the structural layers of his film American Dreams (1984). The handwritten diary begs to be read as it moves from right to left at the bottom of the screen, reminiscent of emergency warnings and news bulletins that punctuated TV broadcasts in the 1960s. Bremer’s diary is juxtaposed throughout the film with close-up shots of baseball cards and memorabilia that venerate the Milwaukee Braves’ Henry (Hank) Aaron, shown chronologically and methodically.[202] The material begins in 1954, charts Aaron’s career - which lasted till 1976 - and backtracks to end in 1974, when he attains his goal of 715 home runs, breaking the all-time record held by Babe Ruth. Aaron, as a black player in the Major Leagues, which until 1946 had banned blacks, triumphed against institutionalized racism with his accomplishment.

Juxtaposed temporalities - the dual dramas of Bremer’s mounting anxiety to get Nixon and of Aaron’s relentless pursuit of home runs - intertwine and undercut each other. Aaron’s and Bremer’s ambitions are contextualized by each other’s, and by the competition-driven American cold-war culture evoked in the film by political speeches heard as the fronts of the baseball cards are displayed, and excerpts from popular songs of the period as the cards’ backs are shown. (For example: “Rock with Me Henry” by Etta James; an NBC National News broadcast reporting that on May 5, 1959, a U.S. spy plane was shot down over Russia and that Washington authorities denied having sent the plane, but admitted such a flight probably happened;[203] the “Ballad of the Green Berets” by SSgt. Barry Sadler; Father James Groppi speaking on the unlivable conditions blacks are confronted with; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government”; Bob Dylan singing “Leopard- Skin Pill-Box Hat”; Patty Hearst declaring her commitment to the Symbionese Liberation Army; “How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees.)

The individuated narratives of Aaron and Bremer are framed by the same historical conjunctions of American culture evoked by the broadcasts - economically stratified, competitive, masculinist, polarized, imperialist, and violent. American Dreams culminates in Bremer shooting Wallace, and Aaron hitting his 715th home run. The names of James Benning and Arthur Bremer as authors of the film and the diary are superimposed at the film’s end.[204]

Following paths of recognition and curiosity, Benning often investigates public figures he identifies with, whether through personal history, aesthetically, or politically. Kaczynski, Benning, and Bremer come from similar workingclass backgrounds in the Milwaukee-Chicago area. Kaczynski, like Benning, is a mathematician. “Math is a way of thinking, and it is this kind of thinking that informs my art. When I read Kaczynski, no matter if it is personal, political or philosophical, I can feel him thinking very much in the same way.”[205] With Thoreau, he shares a deep understanding of solitude and being present through “looking and listening.” They are likewise attuned to distilled, artful conveyance.

Thoreau’s and Kaczynski’s original cabins proposed symbolic purification by “starting anew” with simple shelter and natural beauty - the pioneer essentials. Benning’s cabins are not historical reconstructions or reenactments - they are more in the spirit of possessing the house as a “poetic exercise.”[206] Such an undertaking involves identifying the ideal spot, planning placement, sight lines, seclusion, and visibility, preparing the land to break ground, and building a structure. Each step entails philosophical and pragmatic deliberation.

The autodidactic orientation of both Thoreau and Kaczynski finds correlation in Benning, who takes immense pleasure in learning. Thoreau’s “natural skill for mensuration, growing out of his mathematical knowledge, and his habit of ascertaining the measures and distances of objects which interested him,” likewise find parallel in the artist.[207] Benning constructed his Thoreau cabin relying on description from Walden and his memory of a visit to Walden Pond. Stylizing in the process, he rebuilt certain details to a tee and ignored others.[208] Benning’s and Thoreau’s sensibilities are enjoined in the unwitting collaboration.

For the Kaczynski cabin, Benning combed the public record for details and came across a series of forensic-style images by photographer Richard Barnes that view the structure straight on and from the front, the back, and both sides. Barnes documented the Unabomber cabin while it was stored in a federal evidence warehouse in 1998, waiting to “go on trial.” Using the photos, Benning calculated the cabin’s dimensions and devised a “to-scale” construction plan. While studying the images, he discovered the cabin’s roof structure was asymmetrical, with ten joists on the right side (spaced unevenly in a 2, 3, 3, 2 pattern) and eleven on the left (also spaced unevenly, but in a 1, 3, 3, 3, 1 pattern). He mimicked the scheme and found that Kaczynski’s alternative building method made the roof stronger and less prone to torque.

Benning’s decision to build a second cabin established a relay with the first. And at that moment, a triangular configuration similar to the setup in American Dreams took form. Each cabin has a distinct atmosphere: part present, part past; part Benning, part Thoreau; part Kaczynski, part Benning - their proximate pairing impacting the meanings of both.

Several years earlier, the wish to learn about painting motivated Benning to duplicate certain works, beginning with drawings and paintings by Traylor. Benning has been interested in “outsider” artists since the late seventies and sometimes likens himself to a folk artist.[209] In 1989, he met Tolliver when friends that he and his daughter, Sadie, were staying with in Montgomery, Alabama, took them to spend the day with the painter. During the visit Benning bought a painting for Sadie, which he filmed ten years later for Four Corners (1998).

Four Corners is Benning’s most obsessively structured film and discloses histories and views of the intersecting states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. It is divided into four proportionate sections with precisely the same format. Each segment begins with eighty seconds of rolling text using 1,214 letters each. These are brief biographies Benning wrote about four artists: Claude Monet, Tolliver, Yukuwa, and Jasper Johns.[210] The biographies situate the artists in place and time, recounting geographic movements, marriages, and births, and each ending with the naming of one of their artworks.[211] During the static shots of the paintings, histories of ethnic and cultural conflicts and disappearing communities in the region - stories of exploitation - are told, each with 1,186 words.[212] These are followed by thirteen forty-second scenes of locations and areas mentioned in those narrations, shot respectively in summer, fall, winter, and spring. Benning’s use of precise symmetry reflects an “obsession for democracy, desire for the perfect square, which of course is impossible.”[213]

In the second section, the static shot of Tolliver’s painting George Washington (made after a dollar bill he pulled from his pocket) is juxtaposed with Benning’s spoken description of the Milwaukee neighborhood he grew up in. Intending “to place my life in a larger historical context,”[214] his story is actually an armature to articulate stories of interlacing constituencies whose histories generated Milwaukee.[215] The Milwaukee narrative is used to “develop these larger histories of land ownership or land use, and how the native peoples who were there were systematically removed.”[216] In so doing, Benning highlights the cyclical quality of conflicts over land use and the transformation of the land, which is reiterated in other sections of the film. In so doing, he links his life to Tolliver’s.

Benning’s curatorial criteria for inclusion in the cabins are multiple. Works by Traylor, Tolliver, and Darger - all long-term inspirations - were foundational and were the first to be installed. After that, one thing slowly led to another. For instance, Benning was taken with Joseph Yoakum’s sensuous landscapes and realized that one looked a lot like the canyon where Kaczynski used to experiment with his bombs. Benning had been copying the outspoken signage of Jesse “Outlaw” Howard for years, and wanted to bring a written work into the mixture. Benning had learned of Martin Ramirez’s work, coincidentally, around the time he was filming RR (2007), and brought him into the project. And Benning initially installed a copy of a Howard Finster painting in the Thoreau cabin, but later rejected it. “The first time I met Finster he wanted me to stay and have some Hormel chili with him. He told me there was money to be made in art. The second time I was a witness and babysitter for a couple that came to be married. I found the Rev. to be a bit of a skemmer. But maybe it was more of a personality thing. He’s very outgoing, and I’m not. But the real reason I got rid of the Finster painting was because it wasn’t very good, I mean, my painting wasn’t. It was of one of his early ones with a number under 1000. All of those paintings are great. But I never worked hard enough to get it right. I guess I just didn’t connect with him.”[217] He replaced the painting with one he made after “William Hawkins Born July 27, 1895,”[218] whose work he had freshly encountered. The “finished” selection[219] came about incrementally as the artist, informed by perpetual research, worked through ideas and possibilities to compose each cabin interior and articulate the larger configuration of Two Cabins conceptually as well as materially.

Self-taught and independent, Benning feels compelling affiliations with the artists he copies, with their extreme focus, obsessive methods, and the ways in which their works reference their lives. “Traylor works from both memory and current observation. He ends up documenting his life through his painting and drawings. After copying his work for a number of years, it made me think, I believe I’m doing the same thing.”[220] Each of the artists he unites with has created his own visual language. The paintings are at once idiosyncratic models of autobiography and perspectives on the social landscape. They all come out of poverty.[221]

If I think about autonomy, Ramirez immediately comes to mind. He completely lost control of his life. The institution he was confined to took away all of his freedom. He had none, yet he was able to find freedom on his own terms. Inside that mental ward he created a life where he could do what he actually wanted to do, which is quite remarkable. They allowed him this, of course, because when he was working, he caused them little trouble. But I’m not sure if he was aware that he had reclaimed his autonomy in a place where they took it completely from him. He just worked.[222]

Re-creating is intimate. Learning how others see and compose requires suspending one’s subjectivity and authorial program to open onto understanding.

The original concentration of, for instance, Ramirez intently painting voluminous train tunnels over and over, or Kaczynski meticulously writing out the number code he devised to shield self-incrimination in his journals, is mirrored by Benning’s absorption as he transcribes - as their ways of working pass through him. Making a faithful resemblance requires deep consideration. These works are acts of acknowledgement and devotion. Empathy is palpable in his copies, and so is Benning, who leaves traces. For instance, he painted Black Hawk’s Dreams or Visions of Himself Changed to a Destroyer or Riding a Buffalo Eagle, 1880-81, on the back of an 1882 photograph and allowed writing on the back of that photo to surface in the replica as a reference to the writing found on ledger paper used for many of the Plains Indian drawings. After living with the works for a while, Benning sometimes goes back into them to make adjustments, to “get it right,” and to integrate new research.[223]

The discovery of more than 250 books in Kaczynski’s cabin after his arrest was a source of fascination for some journalists, who attempted to interpret him from his reading list, combing every volume for clues to his rationale and modus operandi.[224] Benning was struck by the overlap between titles owned by Kaczynski and himself, both of them born in 1942 and schooled in the general-education curriculum of the period. Although he grew up in a home without books, Benning is an active reader.[225] He began making a library for the cabin as soon as he finished construction. Filtering Kaczynski and inserting himself to articulate an intersection of their references and histories, he researched, added to, and reworked the collection over the next two and half years.[226] Kaczynski’s titles include Autopsy of Revolution, Recommended Dietary Allowances, Topology of Plane Sets, A Field Guide to Animal Tracks, Growing Up Absurd: Problems of Youth in the Organized System, and History of the French Revolution;[227] to which Benning joins, for instance, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which he consulted researching for Four Corners; Meteorology for All, used while working on Ten Skies (2004); Martin Eden, which affected him deeply when he read it in high school;[228] as well as allusions to the cabins project, The Outsider, The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy, th Tradition in 19th Century America, and Henry Darger’s Room, 851 Webster, composed of photographs of the artist’s single-room residence, where he lived and made his work for four decades.

Looking for a structural solution for the collection’s arrangement, Benning ordered the books by height. Then, starting with the largest and working from left to right across the nine-foot-ten-inch-by-eight-and-a-half-inch bookshelf he had installed on the west wall of the cabin, he sequenced them into eleven stacks, in the process allowing the categories, topics, and sources to intermingle in each pyramidal pile.

What kind of historian is Benning? Although interpretation is suffused in every step of research, selection, assigning relevance, joining to, making connections, and making present, he refrains from both narration and judgment. By judiciously withholding, he launches a clearing in the midst of the project so that others may tap social memory and affinity through their own constellations of experience, consciousness, curiosity, bias, and belief

Joining to those he feels correspondence with, Benning maps himself into the duplicated cabins, paintings, and artifacts, and as a peer, implicates himself in their histories, and them in his. The cabins are a laboratory in which ideas incubate and instigate further inquiry, and where Benning inevitably links to his own history. Self-reference and self-reflection run through his work. Over time, he has created a rich feedback system in which personal history, passions, methods, and convictions echo. Just as his films are visual journals of his exploration and witnessing, Benning investigates and reports himself from Two Cabins. A conceptual chain of obsessions and problems is literally framed out in the structures themselves.[229]

I want to talk about how things fit together. It’s directly related to what I teach in my “Math as Art” class, that is, mathematics grew up here and there - things were discovered independently from one another. For example, the growth constant 2.7182 ... known as e was found from banking; fractals date back to the golden ratio and Greek architecture. Other things were found from pure play, but as they were brought together, they would fit, and eventually formed a precise structure. And that’s how I believe the cabins work too. I was discovering things here and here and here, and all of a sudden it became coherent. I didn’t invent the juxtapositions or their meanings - I discovered them.[230]

James Benning “took to the woods” in the spring of 2002, buying his first house ever on two and a half acres in the Sierra Nevada north of Bakersfield, California.[231] A hand-painted sign hangs from a thick rusty chain crossing his driveway: “POSTED Henry David Thoreau KEEP OUT.”[232] Far from being a recluse, he is nonetheless a loner with a great need and aptitude for solitude.[233] Autonomy is the religion that satisfies his temperament.

Solitude does not just happen now, nor did it in Thoreau’s time. It has to be created. Solitariness is at once environmental and internal. As much as solitude implies privacy and tranquility, it also involves withdrawal and segregation. Remove from the mediating presence of others reorganizes the architecture of the psyche, producing a space prioritized by consciousness of oneself. Finding and losing oneself ad infinitum. A one-to-one relationship with place or object transpires - geometrically different from the attention-diverting triangulation that happens when another is present. Reflection concentrates. Whatever its objective, focus within privacy achieves different depth.

Benning’s solitude gains contour from acute observation and artistic focus, arousing history in the process.

The myth of America as “new world”: imagining itself liberated from history but oblivious to its genocidal origin and repressive history in the making. Can a culture rooted in actively forgetting its own history do anything other than repeat itself?

Thoreau sought to “wake up the neighbors”[234] when the country was still in formation, slavery was overt, industrialization was fresh, and the paradoxical consequence of America was beginning to sink in. Kaczynski began sounding the alarm against science-and-technology-driven society when he was in his early twenties. Benning’s love/hate relationship with America runs through his life, evidenced in nearly forty years of work.

Two Cabins conjoins a variety of voices that induce the problematic of America - its false promise of freedom from and freedom to that simply will not square, a promise deeply imbedded in its very conception that can never be satisfied. Apparitions of embodied autonomy populate the cabins: America as infinite producer of hope and despair and agitation. “Somehow I have to make an argument for ‘a wanting of a utopia’ that will surface under any conditions, with the idea that at least some people will always be able to reclaim their autonomy - even after it has been completely stripped from them.”[235]

By authority of affinity, Benning has called this eclectic town meeting to order. Each attendee has a story to tell in a visual language of their making. The meeting is cochaired: Thoreau insists on our duty to the present and to individual conscience, gesturing to the pilgrim’s life. Kaczynski sounds an apocalyptic forecast and a call to revolution, motioning to the primitive life. Discussion goes every which way: live in the mind, remake the world, go off on your own, make your own world; visions proliferate of old times, other times, times to be. Benning, standing to the side, asks that we give consideration.

Benning’s settlement is a compendium of refusals to go with society’s current. It is at once an account of people who take nothing for granted and an avowal of independence in creativity. A compilation of lives and places and temporalities recuperated and made present. James Benning congregated this homestead so he might live in its midst and take part in the dialogue of compulsions. An outlook from which to know his ground, take stock, feel affinity, and reflect on the angles at which he stands to the world.

After Benning, after Math: 12, 13 and counting....

Dick Hebdige

If each generation were allowed and expected to build its own houses, that simple change, comparatively unimportant in itself, would imply almost every reform which society is now suffering for. I doubt whether even our public edifices - our capitols, statehouses, courthouses, city-halls and churches - ought to be built of such permanent materials as stone or brick. It were better that they should crumble to ruin once in twenty years or thereabouts, as a hint to people to examine and reform the institutions which they symbolize.

— Holgrave, Hope Party reformer, painter and practitioner of the new art of daguerrotypography in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, House of the Seven Gables (1851).

Email sent August 5 2010

Dear Amy,

I just left a rambling heads up on your voice mail to the effect that I’m now back in Joshua Tree after a brief stay with James Benning at his place in the High Sierras circa 1846 (no internet or cell phone coverage, no answer machine, no fancy victuals e.g. bread, eggs, etc). As a consequence of falling off the grid and ending up in Donner Party land, I didn’t retrieve your messages till yesterday afternoon after the 5 hour drive down the mountains through Kern County and across the inner wastes of the Mojave. Despite the distances, the heat and the lack of amenities up there, the trip turned out to be magical and restorative though I got hit on arrival by some kind of vicious 72 hour bug. I’m always stunned by how beautiful James’s place is. The house is an authentic slice of early ’70s Americana projected on stilts off the sheer side of a mountain, suspended at tree-top height over a forest that stretches off for miles into the peak-studded distances that separate his idyll from the blistering Central Valley and the exhaust-laden transport hub of Bakersfield....

December 2005.

James just gave me a Bill Traylor drawing - a Baron Samedi figure in a stovepipe hat with a cane. On the back there’s an inscription that reads “after Traylor, JB’’ and the date.

— Author’s diary entry.

The Benning manse is, as I say, poised over a steep V shaped canyon... the most jaw-dropping feature is the open deck hovering like an airplane wing out into the ether, framed out fair and square with four evenly spaced horizontal planks at the top running the length of the house Japanese Zen temple-style. We’d sit there in the evenings talking into our drinks and the gathering darkness, gazing out into the blue, pink, then star-clustered distances as the hawks and eagles pinned to the sky like silhouettes on a child’s bedroom wall turned into bats looping open- mouthed through swarms of flying insects. The spirit of the Unabomber presided over all, looming in the barbecued air between the deck where we were sitting and the Kaczynski cabin nestled 30 yards down the hill beneath our feet, a miniscule structure (12 ft. x 10 ft. x 6 ft. 9 in.) half-obscured by a giant Manzanita, like the gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel.

By way of contrast, the Thoreau cabin (12 ft. x 15 ft. x 7 ft. 4 in.) just over to the west can’t be seen at all in summer from this position. It’s off to one side, completely shrouded in foliage (as if it’s been placed in parenthesis). For now at least from where we were sitting - at least until that bush gets bigger - Kaczynski kind of dominates the composition....

The nature of things is in the habit of concealing itself. — Heraclitus, Fragment 5:4


James Benning’s cabins sit 40 meters apart bedded in among thickets of scrub oak, manzanita and ponderosa pine at an elevation of 4000 feet mid-way down a steep foothill adjacent to the Sequoia National Forest in the western High Sierras. Flanked by high bushes and oriented at different angles, each cabin, secreted in plain sight, is a one-room world unto itself. Separate but connected (there is no directly linking path) they each command similar yet completely different inward- and outward-facing views. Along with a clear glass-paneled door and contemporary equivalents of the two large windows from the hut on Walden Pond, the walls of the Thoreau cabin open onto five distinct, intensely wrought worlds:

  • 1 ‘Hawkins’ (The Blue Boar #2 [1989]),

  • 1 ‘Ramirez’ (Train Tracks with Two Tunnels, 1948-61),

  • 1 ‘Darger’ (At Ressurrectoation Run. Attacked by Fierce Glandelinians, one of the Vivians hurls grenades, 1960),

  • 1 ‘Tolliver’ (Self-Portrait, 1978) and

  • 3 ‘Traylors’ (Man in Blue House with Rooster, Blue Construction with Two

Figures and Dog, Female Drinker, 1939-43).

All 7 works are exact hand-made replicas of the originals, the mimetic detail extending to media, materials, mode of execution, age and provenance of frames, etc.

July 2006.

JB gave me two more ‘Traylors’ done on authentic mid-century cardboard - a small ink drawing in a thick square wooden thrift store ’40s frame of two male figures boxing with Traylor’s trademark rounded heads, beady bird eyes and curvilinear dancers’ bodies and a blocky bull in red. They are deceptively simple and not at all straightforward. Like Japanese manga or a painting by Nara, the filled-in silhouettes may appear disarming and child-like at first, but once they’ve settled into the wall they begin to glower back at the viewer with an amused kind of ferocity. (This may be where Kara Walker got the idea for her horror-history silhouette series). The slave’s gift to the master: a poisoned glass of juke joint rum made from sugar grown right here on the old plantation. It occurs to me that the second drawing could be the logo for that caffeinated energy drink/alcoholic mixer.

— Author’s diary entry.

The views from inside the Kaczynski cabin, a facsimile of the Unabomber’s former Montana home are as intense and heterogeneous as those from inside the Thoreau cabin. In addition to the solid door and the two small square windows installed asymmetrically on opposite sides as in the original structure, the perforations in the walls open (in or out depending on how you figure spatiality) onto:

  • 1 ‘Black Hawk’ {Dreams of Visions of Himself Changed to a Destroyer or

Riding a Buffalo Eagle, 1880 or 81),

  • 1 ‘Yoakum’ {Idaho Falls, Braintree Pass c. 1966),

  • 1 ‘Howard’ (A Man Has No Right to Defend his Family etc, 1955),

  • a scanned pdf. of a page of Kaczynski doodles,

  • a 1 in. x 3 in. scrap of paper with a motto {Taking a bath in winter breaks an Indiana law) found in the original Kaczynski cabin typed by JB on the same Smith-Corona manual model Kaczynski used to type the Unabomber Manifesto and

  • a framed hand-written copy of a sheet of the ‘secret’ numerical code TK used to document his most incriminating thoughts and actions - 1 of 13 pages found hidden inside the cabin walls after his arrest without which, as the FBI admit, the relevant sections of the Unabomber’s journals would, in all probability, have remained un-deciphered.

The Cabins Project, JB’s tribute to the American vernacular yard art tradition is perched on the just-about-buildable edge of a hillside, public park land, defensible appropriation art practice and permissible speech. It is equal parts design-build demonstration project, historical echo chamber, political statement, conceptual- outsider art installation, living museum, artists’ retreat and secessionist compound. At first glance, aspects of the project may seem congruent with broader trends in the contemporary art world, for example, the engagement of individual artists and art collectives with design, domestic living space and bare-bones architecture or with simulation and altered states of consciousness or with the genealogy of’60s West Coast counter-culture and cybernetics etc. But the Cabins Project remains, at its core, stubbornly recalcitrant and singular. Like the group of awkward loners whose works and lives provide the second-hand citational substance out of which it has been woven, it cannot be annexed by any trend or socially networked ‘world’ (art or otherwise) outside itself.

JB’s imaginary collective is as impossible and illusory as Theodore J. Kaczynski’s Freedom Club (FC) - the fictional anti-technology terrorist organization in whose name the former Berkeley math professor, raised in a lower-middle class Chicago suburb, pushed through high school at an accelerated rate and sent off to Harvard, aged 16, issued his demands, pronouncements and ‘Manifesto’ to the FBI, the Press, and, via them, to society-at-large during his 16-year reign of terror from a one-room plywood shack secreted on a heavily timbered 1.4 acres in Florence Gulch within a mile of Stemple Pass Road on the edge of Lincoln, Montana (2010 pop. 1,465). FC, the initials TK stamped on the metal plugs he used to cap his sometimes lethally effective lo-tech pipe bombs, before enclosing them in elaborate, hand-crafted wooden boxes and mailing them to people connected to industries and professions he disapproved of, became Kaczynski’s personal signature. In all likelihood, it’s only in his FC-signed communiques, written in the ‘royal we,’ that Kaczynski, condemned to life in solitary long before his feral paradise in Florence Gulch, Montana morphed into a cell in a federal penitentiary in Florence, Colorado has had recourse to the first person plural pronoun:

This message is from the terrorist group FC. To prove its authenticity we give our identifying number.... By ‘freedom’ we mean the opportunity to go through the power process, with real goals not the artificial goals of surrogate activities and without interference, manipulation or supervision from anyone, especially any large organization.[236]

JB’s Cabins club is a similarly fantastic collective - an assortment of odd ducks, dissidents, recluses and marginals bound together through a speech act delivered by an outside-inside artist. It exists in here between these covers as much as, if not more than, out there in the world. Benning’s paradoxical ‘community’ - an Army of Ones - is as illusory and non-existent from a fact-based point of view as the “American people,” that other meta-fictional entity, endlessly conjured out of the ether, interpellated and spoken for in stump speeches, press conferences and policy tweets by members of the professional political and pundit class. In fact, the endlessly biddable “American People,” the blimp that floats daily through the blabo-sphere, blown this way and that by competing currents of hot air (as opposed to actually existing American boots, shoes and bare feet on the ground) is what JB’s FC stands against - or rather turns away from.

I have a huge love-hate relationship with this country... that’s what my films underline... (they) express my frustration with being an American and question the direction this country has taken. Not explicitly but I think it’s always in all my films because it’s part of me. And around 1995 I decided I had only two criteria to make films from now on... to go to a place I want to be in, to really understand place, to define place as having meaning and then to look at this place (so) that it can tell me something about my life ... to put my life in maybe more focus.

— James Benning[237]


James’s property is situated on the edge of a small berg in Tulare County, the poorest county in the state. The town is centered on a cluster of mobile homes and cabins on stilts wedged into a holler with a stream and though the map says ‘California’ the place has an authentic east coast Appalachian feel. There’s a bar attached to a motel that’s open 5 days a week and closes around 8.00 p.m. and a store that sells mainly canned goods. James’s fridge contains tins of soda, a few bottles of beer and cellophane wrapped packages ofliverwurst. There are also large plastic flagons of water (the tap water is contaminated with uranium).

James’s main source of nutrition is, of course, research and ceaseless making. Stacked up in one corner of the living room adjacent to the boxes of tapes and CDs are orderly piles of books, especially biographies and catalogues devoted to the folk /outsider artists he’s so tightly drawn to, and whose work he’s been copying in a series of meticulously rendered replicas for the past 7 years or so, ever since he finished working on the house. As my summer cold set in the following day, I picked up an armful of books and headed downstairs to the guest quarters directly below the flying deck and retreated to bed where I lay reading, dozing, sneezing... glancing up at intervals, as the afternoon wore on into another evening, at the apparition of the Unabomber’s hut visible through the window, peeking out from behind that bush in the feverish half-light....

A single shelf running the length of the west wall in the Kaczynski cabin holds 115 books stacked in 11 horizontal piles. Roughly half are duplicates taken from the 257 titles listed by the FBI in their inventory of the original TK cabin contents. The other half consists of additional ‘sympathetic’ inserts from JB’s library, including some books owned by figures convened by Benning in “Twelve People” published elsewhere in this volume:

Sunday May 7, 1972

Found something to do with my $10 Confederate Flag. Wiped the dust off my shoes with it befor polishing them. It’s too thin to use as a polish cloth. ‘Wish I was in the land of cotton.’ Bang! ‘Bama.

— Arthur Bremer, An Assassin’s Diary[238]

The artist’s textual additions include Arthur Bremer’s An Assassin’s Diary, the self-penned chronicle of the 21 year-old unemployed busboy from Milwaukee who set off on an extended transcontinental meander in the early spring of 1972 with the stated intention of assassinating Richard Nixon, only to end up at a rally in a shopping mall in Laurel, Maryland on the afternoon of May 15 severing the spine of George C. Wallace, then the segregationist Governor of Alabama, with a bullet from a .38.

April 24, 1972 Monday

Just another god Damn


Henry ‘Hank’ Aaron, dubbed the “Last Hero” in a recent biography by Howard Bryant is the only proper name from JB’s “Twelve People” that escapes incarceration inside the cabin complex. Joined forever at the hip to Arthur Bremer in the universe of Benning as the one-time starring outfielder with the Milwaukee Braves through the 55 minute montage of Aaron baseball cards that take centerstage in JB’s film American Dreams (1984) while Bremer’s semi-literate diary entries scroll right to left across the bottom of the screen, Aaron alone is allowed to float free from the labyrinth of making-dwelling-thinking JB has dug over the course of several years into his hillside property at the edge of the Sequoia federal wilderness reserve.[240] He alone is spared inclusion in the matrix of obsession, positioned to one side as an honorary affiliate of the JB FC, an unsullied icon from Benning’s adolescence, when, thanks to his skill as an Industrial League ‘sand lot’ pitcher in Milwaukee in the ’50s/early ’60s JB, too, was for a brief while courted, as a pro-baseball prospect.[241]

But then again, like Bill Traylor and Mose Tolliver (and George Wallace), as a native son of Alabama (born in Mobile, 1934), Aaron doesn’t get to float that far....

The Milwaukee in which Henry Aaron arrived in 1954 was ... adjusting ... (after World War II to)... the arrival of thousands of southern blacks during the great migration north. The postwar increase in the black population would produce for Milwaukee one of its great contradictions, for despite its reputation for tolerance, high-quality-of life Milwaukee earned a reputation as one of the most severely segregated cities in the country.[242]

Among the 280 portraits of mainly working and lower-middle class students of German, Jewish and Polish stock in Benning’s graduation high school year book for 1961, there is not a single black face though JB grew up just four blocks west of ‘Bronzeville,’ the tight rectangle of streets in downtown Milwaukee set aside for its African-American population.[243] The march through the heart of the Irish-Italian neighborhoods of South Milwaukee led by Father Groppi in 1967 that ended in a violent clash at Kosciuszko Park during which several protesters,

Benning included, were beaten to the ground by opponents of desegregation may have contributed to the city’s first fair-housing ordinance passed the following year, but the violence and the racism continued unabated.[244] Throughout the 1973 season when Aaron was poised to beat Babe Ruth’s ‘all-time’ home-run record, he received sack loads of hate mail from white baseball fans, many hailing the future Hall of Famer as “Dear Nigger” including the following more politely framed death threat reproduced in Aaron’s auto-biography:

Dear Hank,

You are a very good ballplayer, but if you come close to Babe Ruth’s 714 homers I have a contract out on you. Over 700 and you can consider yourself punctured with a .22 shell. If by the all-star game you have come within 20 homers of Babe you will be shot on sight by one of my assassins on July 24, 1973.[245]

A transversal scan of the volumes on display in the Kaczynski cabin taken in the light of the preceding paragraph two hours after it was written on the replica desk in the Thoreau cabin on 7/13/11 highlighted the following:

  • found in Arthur Bremer’s apartment after his arrest: Bradford Angier, How to Survive in the Woods (Macmillan Press, 1956);

  • referenced in Henry Darger’s Realms: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Toms Cabin (1852; Signet, 1966);

  • from the FBI inventory of titles found in the Unabomber cabin:

Hugh Davis Graham & Ted Robert Gurr (eds) Violence in America: Historical and Comparative Perspectives volumes 1 and 2: A Report to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence (Sage Publications, 1979; 1989); The Rasies of Rifle Shooting (National Rifle Assn, 1987); Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent (1907; Doubleday, 1953);

  • from JB’s library: Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave Written by Himself (Boston, 1845; Anchor 1973); Stephen B. Oates, To Purge This Land With Rlood. A Riography of John Rrown (University of Massachusetts Press, 1984).

2d, December, 1859

I, John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty, land: will never be purged away; but with Blood. I had as I now think: vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed; it might be done.[246]

A note containing this prophetic proclamation was handed to an attendant by John Brown hours prior to his execution for treason after the abortive raid on the federal armory at Harper’s Ferry on October 16, 1859, the action that, in retrospect, eleven months before the firing on Fort Sumter, served as the unofficial opening salvo in the American Civil War. At 11 a.m. that day as the open wagon carrying the Old Man seated on his coffin entered the field outside Charlestown, Virgina where a crowd of 1500, including the actor John Wilkes Booth, had gathered to see justice served, the abolitionist/domestic terrorist/ freedom fighter/martyr to the anti-slavery cause looked up for a moment at the Blue Ridge mountains in the distance framing the gallows and remarked to no one in particular:

This is a beautiful country. I never had the pleasure of seeing it before.[247]


Bill Traylor, the former slave from Benton, Alabama who, from 1939 to 1942, spent his days seated on a crate with a pencil stub drawing what he saw inside the bits of cardboard blown in by the wind in the doorway of a pool hall on Montgomery’s Monroe Street, spent his nights sleeping in the coffin storage room of a nearby funeral parlor by kind permission of the owner.[248]

Mose Tolliver, who was raised with his eleven siblings in a one-room sharecropper’s cabin in Pintlala, Alabama but lived much of his adult life in Montgomery, former capital of Andrew Jackson’s Confederacy, home to Rosa Parks and, from 1954-1960 of Martin Luther King, both of whom, separately and in unison, pursued John Brown’s agenda by other means, spent his days sitting on a bed painting what he saw when he looked down into the sheets of plywood resting on crippled knees crushed beneath a falling crate of marble at the warehouse where he’d worked before the accident.[249]

Henry Darger, who enlisted Little Eva and Simon Le Gris from Uncle Toms Cabin as combatants in opposing armies of The Realms appropriated the uniforms, weapons and supplies of the Civil War to model his own private holocaust - the bloody inner war waged, brother within brother, between the lust for purity and butchery, grace and desecration, implosion, explosion and epiphany.[250]

And Henry David Thoreau spent a famous night in jail because he refused to pay taxes to support a government that condoned and protected slavery, heard John Brown speak at Concord, gave money to support his war in Kansas against the Border Ruffians, delivered the speech ‘A Plea for Captain John Brown” defending the use of violence against the “wickedjness of) human bondage,” helped one of the Harper’s Ferry raiders, Francis Jackson Merriam escape to Canada, and assisted the passage of fugitive slaves to the same destination on what he called America’s “only free road, the Underground Railroad... owned and managed by the Vigilant Committee.”[251]

They are themselves mistaken who take him to be a madman.... Ask the tyrant who is his most dangerous foe, the sane man or the insane? Do the thousands ... who have rejoiced at his deeds in Kansas, and have afforded him material aid there, think him insane?... Is it not possible that an individual may be right and a government wrong? Are laws to be enforced simply because they were made? Or declared by any number of men to be good, if they are not good?... I hear many condemn these men because they were so few. When were the good and the brave ever in a majority? Would you have him wait till... you and I came over to him?

— Henry David Thoreau, A <em>Plea for Captain Brown

East of the Kansas line, Jesse Howard, born dirt-poor and white, one of nine children in a one-room log cabin in Shamrock, Missouri who, in later years, turned the roadside yard in front of his home on Sorehead Hill in Fulton, MO into a public exhibition site for his handwritten upper case opinions would, even at the age of 97, regale visiting folk art collectors with tales from his childhood, including colorful stories about the legendary outlaw, Jesse James. He recalled, for instance, how James, a hard-core Southern Loyalist who, before robbing banks had served as a Confederate guerilla and taken part in the Centralia Massacre in Clay County, MO in September, 1864 when 22 unarmed Union soldiers were scalped and dismembered “would take his horse to shop and have his shoes put on backwards” to confuse pursuing posses.[252]


— “after Jesse Howard, JB’ wall text in ‘Kaczynski’ cabin

The Unabomber ghost stood before me throughout the entire stay, solidly visible to my aching eyes in flu-fever: thick hair amok and stiffly upstanding, JB style, a filthy fleece shirt and grease-shiny jeans hanging off his scrappy frame, startling blue eyes obscured behind the aviator shades from that famous FBI poster; the whole apparition topped with a poncho worn against the cold Montana rain, every inch of its transparent plastic surface smeared with dried mud beneath which lurked a mass of rain-smudged runes and mathematical proofs written out in a neat school boy’s cursive with a black magick marker....

Ted Kaczynski, sole member of the original Freedom Club adopted tactics as ingenious as the bandit, Jesse James to throw the agents off his trail. Those tactics included, inter alia, screwing smaller-sized soles to the bottoms of the trainers he wore while on monkey-wrenching expeditions; dousing bomb parts in a mixture of oil, turpentine and water to remove finger-prints; attaching single hairs he picked up in a restroom in Missoula to the electrical tape used on one of his devices to muddy the forensics. He was alleged to have laid a sheet of paper across the envelope of a letter addressed to the New York Times in June, 1994 and written “phone Nathan R - Wed 7 pm” hard enough to leave a (barely legible) imprint thus sending the FBI on a wild goose chase with agents poring over national phone listings attempting to track down every Nathan with a surname beginning with an “R”, then tracing back all incoming calls around 7 p.m. inside the time-frame established by the post mark.[253]

(Researchers) note... that the health, life, and genetic legacy of members of social species are threatened when they find themselves on the social perimeter. For instance, social isolation ... promotes obesity and Type 2 diabetes in mice; exacerbates infarct size and edema and decreases poststroke survival rate following experimentally induced stroke in mice; promotes activation of the sympatho-adrenomedullary response to an acute immobilization or cold stressor and delays the effects of exercise on adult neurogenesis in rats;... increases the 24 hr urinary catecholamines levels and evidence of oxidative stress in the aortic arch of rabbits.... Humans, born to the longest period of abject dependency of any species and dependent on conspecifics across the lifespan to survive and prosper, do not fare well, either, whether they live solitary lives or they simply perceive they live in relative isolation.

— Wikipedia entry under Social Isolation

And throughout the twenty-five years he spent alone without electricity or plumbing surrounded by his books and bomb components, his personal Nature deities, Grandfather Rabbit and the Will ‘o’ the Wisp[254] and his edible companions - the rabbits, elk, squirrels, rats, mice and crickets that would end up in his stews along with wild plants and home-grown self-composted carrots and potatoes, he wrote incessantly, compulsively documenting his daily thoughts and actions, his natural history observations and Promethean experiments on more than 22,000 typed and hand-written pages, simultaneously disclosing and concealing through an elaborate, and, as it turned out, futile security-alert transcription system that switched back and forth between various languages (Kaczynski’s library included primers in Chinese, Egyptian, Finnish, German, Latin, Russian and Spanish) and the numerical code he reserved for ‘Q’ (queer i.e. sensitive) and QQ’ (very queer) disclosures - the whole scriptive system representing a vast confessional labyrinth into which the Unabomber would fall as he set out every morning like Dante Alighieri on Groundhog day on his walk into the dark wood.

”A” coded numbers:

14, 95, 16, 91, 28, 41, 90, 43, 57, 16, 18,

82, 96, 67, 44, 51, 32, 98, 81, 87, 31, 3,

57, 11, 22, 0, 65, 37, 67, 57, 38, 8, 52, 23,

75, 32, 61, 38, 39, 22, 56, 82, 56, 1, 31,

3, 43, 51, 1, 57, ...

”B” coded numbers:

0, 62, 83, 17, 86, 29, 16, 30, 27, 04, 89,

20, 68, 53, 26, 23, 10, 80, 69, 45, 17, 70,

32, 90, 47, 54, 2, 95, 11, 15, 14, 90, 31,

87, 63, 8, 31, 13, 74, 50, 14, 29, 35, 83,

19, 79, 18, 22, 46, 29, ...

Using the ‘secret’ double key hidden by Kaczynski in the original cabin wall, the two sets of numbers above deliver the first ten words in bold of the coded journal entry translated below which TK rated ‘Q’:

Exxon conducting seismic exploration for oil. Couple of helicopters flying all over the hills, lower... dynamite on a cable, make blast on ground, instruments measure vibrations. Early August I went and camped out... in Diagonal Gulch, hoping to shoot up a helicopter.... Proved harder than I thought.... 2 quick shots .... Miss both. When I got back to camp, I cried, partly from frustration at missing, but mostly grief at what is happening to the country. It is so beautiful. But if they find oil, disaster.... Where can I go now for peace and quiet?[255]

The entry was deciphered on 7/16/11 by JB with the following program written by JB in BASICA on a 1983 NEC computer and described in his own words below:

The computer program does the following:

1) prompts to enter the “A” code numbers

2) prompts to enter the “B” code numbers

3) subtracts B from A

4) if the difference is less than zero, then 100 is added to the difference

5) translates the difference to a Letter, Word, Number, Punctuation Mark or Word-Spacer according to Kaczynski’s List of Meanings

For example: 14 is entered from the “A” list, 0 is entered from the “B” list. The difference is 14 minus 0, which is 14; and from the list of meanings 14= “E” Then 95 is entered from the “A” list and 62 is entered from the “B” list.

The difference is 95 minus 62, which is 33; and from the list of meanings 33= “X”. Then 16 is entered from the “A” list, 83 is entered from the “B” list. The difference is -67, which is less than zero so 100 is added giving 33; and from the list of meanings 33= “X”; and so forth. Note that after 3 entries, the code gives: EXX, which are the first three letters of the corporation known as EXXON.

— James Benning, email 7/19/11

Everything we have to do to get to the truth has to be sneaky. It seems a shame to sneak to get to the truth - to make the truth such an evil, old, dirty, nasty thing. You have to sneak to get to the truth. The truth is condemned. The truth is in the gas chamber. The truth has been in your stockyards, your slaughterhouses. The truth has been in your reservations, building your railroads, emptying your garbage. The truth is in your ghettoes, in your jails not in your courtrooms .... They put a picture of old George on the dollar and tell you that he’s your Father - worship him ... they’re butchering themselves every time they go on the freeway. They hate themselves. Look at the signs - STOP, GO, TURN HERE, TURN THERE, you can’t do this, you can’t do that.... You can’t, you can’t, you can’t. This is illegal. That’s illegal.... The police used to watch over the People. Now they’re watching the people ....

— Charles Manson[256]

Systematically cross-referencing as a counter-example the trial of John Brown, who resisted entreaties from his lawyers and family to avoid a death penalty by entering a plea of diminished responsibility due to mental impairment, lawyer Michael Mello argues that by effectively making the commencement of the Unabomber trial contingent on Kaczynksi’s acquiescence in an insanity plea, Judge Garland Burrell denied Kaczynski his constitutional right to participate in his own defense.[257] Mello argues that whereas Brown could die a martyr to his cause, having seized the opportunity presented by a highly publicized trial to launch a withering denunciation of slavery and the government that passively supported it in morally irrefutable terms and in a resolute and dignified manner that helped to galvanize the Northern opposition, Kaczynski, another trenchantly articulate and inflexible extremist with a grandiose self-image and an inflated sense of righteousness, violently opposed to the overweening power of the state and a more subtle but, for him, no less pernicious or intolerable form of technological slavery[258] was denied his day in court, confronted as he was, with a no-win either/or: either life in prison and a guilty plea as the price for his silence or free speech as a madman as the reward for a probable death sentence. Regardless of how disgusting and abominable the acts of violence perpetrated on randomly selected individuals by the Unabomber were, the actions of the judge and Kaczynski’s attorneys in what turned out to be the Unabomber no-trial raised, in William Finnegan’s words “fundamental questions about. ..the role of psychiatry in the courts and the pathologizing of radical dissent in the courts and the press.”[259]

The Kaczynski cabin played a central role in these maneuvers. Lifted onto a big rig and stored for 17 months at Malmstrom Air Force Base 70 miles west of its original location, then transported a further 1000 miles across the Sierras to an industrial park near the Sacramento courthouse in December 1997 at the request of the defense team, the shack was to be presented to the jury by Kaczynski’s attorneys as physical evidence of his reclusive schizophrenia.[260] Mello points out that, while admittedly smaller than the modest cabin ‘Mad’ John Brown built for his family on the shores of Lake Placid, New York, the man known to his supporters as ‘God’s Avenger,’ in contrast to Kaczynski, shared his accommodation with a wife and up to ten children.[261] And the Kaczynski cabin was originally sited on the outskirts of Lincoln, Montana, so named, in 1865, in honor of the martyred hero of Gettysburg, whose humble backwoods origins in rural Illinois are memorialized in the image of a rough hewn log cabin - patriotic icon of America’s pioneering roots - stamped into the shining bronze-colored alloy of the 2009 commemorative Lincoln penny.

Read TK cd get by on as little as $200 a year when in MT. Wd send angry letters to phone co. demanding reimbursement re. unreturned quarters frm local call box

— Text message sent, 8/22/11 (160 characters)

000,000. Nothing,. No confidence. No nothing. NO: 000. — Jesse Howard sign

According to the logic of the linkages pursued and manufactured from this line of inquiry, the Cabins project could be described as an historic battle-field site in the ongoing American Civil War (1861-) that ties John Brown’s body suspended from a rope tied to a scaffold in a West Virginia field to the epoch of Obama, the Tea Party and a terminally deadlocked Congress.

Big Government small government no government at all

The Cabins Project is also, of course, in case you hadn’t noticed, exclusively a men’s club: a homo-social Free Masonic Lodge in the time-honored tradition of the Revolutionary era. Only one woman - Julie Ault - is allowed admission as an honorary affiliate, in her capacity as convener of and contributor to the published version. The X-ing out of the XX chromosome within the project’s DNA is attributable, no doubt, in varying degrees, to historical, cultural, biographical and genetic factors. A case in point: the incidence of autism and Asperger’s syndrome in the USA currently runs three times higher in boys than in girls, (though this may indicate a diagnostic discrepancy with similar symptoms being interpreted differently across the genders).

The stereotype of the asocial obsessive-compulsive male, prone to repetitive behaviors, with limited empathy and, in some cases, a propensity for math has been fixed within psychiatry for more than a century:

The... word autism was coined by the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in 1910.... He derived it from the Greek work autos (meaning self), and used it to mean morbid self-admiration, referring to “autistic withdrawal of the patient to his fantasies, against which any influence from outside becomes an intolerable disturbance”.... “(Ajutistic aloneness" and “insistence on sameness” are still regarded as typical of the autistic spectrum of symptoms.

— Wikipedia entry under Autism

Falling ill at JB’s house turned out to deliver a pitch-perfect research opportunity though I got overly fixated on the Unabomber bios. Being confined to bed like a child with measles was the ideal position from which to absorb the grim(m) tale of Ted K’s preternaturally lonely life....

It’s been suggested by more than one author that TK may have selected victims with names or addresses with woody connections e.g. Percy Wood from Lake Forest etc. More than one author claims Kaczynski was drawn to the word by its rich literary history and multiple metaphorical connotations e.g. “provoked to madness; dumb, catatonic, rendered speechless by trauma; having an erection etc.”[262]

It’s probable that K has never had sex with another person outside himself though, naturally, he thought about it a lot, especially when young. He went on just three dates with a woman he met while working at a factory called Foam Cutting Inc (another FC) during a brief return trip to Chicago in the ’80s. After the third date, she told him never to contact her again.... After suffering systematic emotional abuse at Harvard as a volunteer subject in experiments conducted by a sadistic CIA psychologist named Dr Henry Murray, he went on to do a PhD at the University of Michigan and, at one point, decided he wanted a sex change, not because he felt like a woman trapped inside a man’s body (though this was the canny explanation he’d rehearsed for the psychiatrist), but because he reasoned that was the only way he’d ever get direct access to a woman’s body as an erotic object. Sitting in the waiting room at the psychiatrist’s office, he realized he couldn’t go through with it - too humiliating - pleaded insomnia and exam nerves, was given a prescription, and, once back on the street, had the epiphany that turned his world upside down and right way up - the solution to his dilemma was ...he would KILL the psychiatrist. Later the list of targets expanded to include “a scientist, a businessman, corporate employee, a big shot and a communist” (though his actual victims would also include secretaries, student interns and other surrogates at one or two removes from the designated addressee)....

Thoreau, whose unusual appearance included, according to one contemporary, “hair which looked as if it had been dressed with a pine-cone... disheveled attire that bore signs of tramps in woods and swamps”[263] and a neck beard which Louisa May Alcott averred “will most assuredly deflect amorous advances and preserve the man’s virtue in perpetuity”[264] did indeed remain celibate his entire life after his courtship of Ellen Sewall foundered on her father’s interdiction. The man who saw in “Wildness... the preservation of the World”[265] and who extolled “the awful ferity with which good men and lovers meet”[266] grew squeamish when confronted with lyrical allusions to actual sex acts in the work of Walt Whitman, a poet he otherwise admired (“He does not celebrate love at all. It is as if the beasts spoke.”).[267] As a good Transcendentalist, Thoreau sought to sublimate what he called “the generative energy” and advocated sexual continence as an aid to manly vigor and clear thinking.

December 26 2004

JB just gave me a Mose Tolliver “Moose Lady” done in house paint on board - a big round head with wide set eyes, straight stripe nose and oyster mouth over an upturned crescent banana with feet at each end and a skinnier crescent the other way up with tiny hands attached. The whole composition revolves round the Lady’s open vulva - a crimson oval that bores into the soft pastels of the rest of the picture like a Black & Decker drilling into aluminum siding on a Sunday morning. JB suggests I hang it in the living room next to the dartboard. As with a genuine Mose T. there’s an authentic pull-off tab from a 1977 beer can JB bought at an antique store in Porterville tacked into the back to hang it from. Below the tab in the bottom right hand corner, an inscription reads “after Tolliver, JB”.

... The Lady will take some accommodating but the ‘Darger’ pencil drawing he gave me for Christmas two years ago was a definite keeper - very fine and delicate: two identical Vivian girl nudes standing together in three quarters profile, one in front of the other like Siamese twins. The duplicated figure derives from a Darger source material magazine cut-out JB took from the room on Webster Street that HD never got around to undressing/adapting and transposing to The Pieaims so it’s a genuine JB “after Darger’’ one-off rather than a copy. I hung it by the bedroom window before I put in blinds and sometimes I’d wake up in the morning and glance up at it from the pillow with the sun streaming in behind my head and think - what if neighbors with binoculars call it in and I get raided? Middle aged man living alone in open sight in hillside desert shack in bedroom without blinds + little girls + penises. As it turned out, the issue resolved itself over time without human intervention as the drawing, exposed directly to the strong Mojave light gradually disappeared in a slow-motion reprise of Rauschenberg’s erasure of de Kooning but I still regret the loss though not, I hasten to add, to the same extent Darger himself for much of his life mourned the loss of the 1911 newspaper photograph of “little Annie Aronburg’’ (probably based on real-life five year old Chicago murder victim, Elsie Paroubek). It was the loss of the latter that drove HD and a fellow bachelor to form the Society for the Protection of Children and, some scholars argue, to launch his single-spaced 15,145 page life-work The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm Caused by the Slave Piebellion, the multi-volume series that documents in detail the torture, spiking, throttling and evisceration of the Vivian girls at the hands of the Glandilineans.[268]

— Author’s diary entry.

Among the volumes added by JB to the Kaczynski book collection is Sloan Wilson’s 1979 novel, Ice Brothers.

... on June 10, 1980 - (United Airlines president Percy) Wood’s birthday - he received a package posted from Chicago containing what seemed to be a copy of Sloan Wilson’s novel Ice Brothers. In fact, behind the title page the book had been hollowed out to contain a bomb. When Wood opened it, the device exploded, inflicting serious cuts to his face and upper left leg.

The bomb ... like its predecessors, was carefully - almost lovingly - put together, out of ordinary household materials. Inside the excavated book, the bomber had filled a section of galvanized pipe with smokeless powders, wired to a fusing system consisting of two D-cell batteries. Opening the cover completed an electrical circuit detonating the powder.[269]

Another JB addition to the library (which also contains a volume from TK’s own collection by Henry Jacobowitz entitled Electronics Made Simple [Doubleday, 1963]) is Raymond F. Yates, A Boy and a Battery (Harper & Bros, 1959).

The latest method of producing current is that of converting atomic energy directly into electric current.... The materials and parts that enter the construction of the atomic cell (are) Strontium 90, the container (holds radioactive material), silicon wafer (transistor-type junction).... The young experimenter cannot hope to make his own atomic cell or battery at this time. He cannot purchase one either. The author is including this chapter on the atomic battery merely to give the young reader some idea of the exciting advances that are being made in the field of science and electronics.

— Raymond F. Yates, A Boy and A Battery (1959)[270]

One way of modeling how the Cabins Project functions as a ‘live’ assemblage primed to light up, blow up, overload and crash at any moment at any of the myriad points of entry open to the reader/viewer/navigator within the network of connections out of which it is composed is via the metaphor of the electrical circuit, especially as in DC where the current is conducted through a wire from a negative to a positive terminus - let’s say, for the sake of argument, from Kaczynski to Thoreau or vice-versa - though to complicate the picture, the charge is prone at any time to suddenly reverse so that the system is not simply infinitely extendible - circuits within circuits within circuits - but inherently unstable - sets within sub-sets of further sets- as it oscillates violently between AC and DC, art and autonomy, art and appropriation, originality and replication, secession and succession, outside and inside, authorship and autism, reason and psychosis, wild(er)ness and control, withholding and disclosure, civil disobedience and terror etc. etc. ad infinitum.

The charge will circulate so fast and in so many directions at once that the circuit will short, blow and burn out.

”Connecticut, Connect-I-cut!” cries little Joey. In his study The Empty Fortress, Bruno Bettleheim paints the portrait of this young child who can live, eat, defecate, and sleep only if he is plugged into machines provided with motors, wires, lights, carburetors, propellors, and steering wheels: an electrical feeding machine, a car-machine that enables him to breathe, an anal machine that lights up. There are very few examples that cast as much light on the regime of desiring-production, and the way in which breaking down constitutes an integral part of the functioning, or the way in which the cutting off is an integral part of mechanical connections.

— Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari[271]


JB’s Cabins Project is also, and finally, (for the purposes of this essay), a meditation on the inexhaustibly exhausting trope of the American Eden where, whatever history, knowledge and experience might have to say about it, the serpent and the apple still hang forever, side by side, upon the tree, unheeded and unplucked. Eternally renewable innocence remains American exceptionalism’s most noteworthy miracle. So Paradise Lost is regained in the honest, clean construction of the cabins accomplished in the time-honored Transcendentalist d.i.y tradition established in the spring of 1845 by Thoreau on a rise by Walden Pond, and in every view of the pristine, unspoiled landscape framed inside the cabin windows. It is found again in the fugue-like looping to infinity of the folds and tracks and tunnels that preoccupied the artist in the copy of the Ramirez painting; in the cranial conflation of the outer and the inner in Yoakum’s Braintree Pass: worlds within worlds within worlds without end. Paradise is lost and found and lost again in the page torn from a Dept, of Indian Affairs ledger book on which Black Hawk, in a trade for subsistence rations with the reservation agent, painted his extraordinary vision of apocalypse - an Avenger dread enough for Little Big Horn. It is placed on hold and put in check, voodoo-style, by Traylor; pushed off the human scale and made bestial and sublime in Tolliver’s Self-Portrait; found again, and lost for good in Darger’s bloody Realms; and is finally laid to rest in whatever that thing is coiled up inside the nest of Ted Kaczynski’s numbers.

A: 65,63,87,32,10,76,64



B: 54,8,67,18,45,42,53



— Kaczynski coded journal (see first four words in bold below)-

Berkeley bomb did well for its size. It was sprung by Air Force pilot, 26 yrs old, name Hauser, working on a Masters deg. in Electrical Eng.... Witness said, “whole arm exploded,” blood all over the place. Also there was damage to one eye.... Further search of newspapers yielded.... Hausers arm was “severed or nearly severed.” Tips of 3 fingers torn off. Use of arm and hand will be permanently impaired, to what degree not known. Hauser father of 3 kids. He was working toward PhD, contrary to other paper that said Masters. He was afraid his “dream” was ruined. Dream was to be astronaut. Imagine grown man whose dream is to be an astronaut.... Recently I camped in a paradise like glacial cirque. At evening beautiful singing birds were ruined by the obscene roar of jet planes. Laughed at the idea of having any compunction about crippling airplane pilot.

craft n. 1. skill esp. in practical arts 2. a boat or vessel 3. cunning; deceit vt to craft, to make in a skillful way

— The Oxford Essential Dictionary (American Edition), 1998

In the act of copying by hand a drawing of a manzanita bush rooted in a hillside, the copyist, intent on every detail, soon gets lost inside the labor, the blind mimetic trance as the wood inside the paper fades back into the outline of a tree, and, in that process of absorption, all the connotations of craft come into play: humble skill and cunning; dexterity, accomplishment and masterful deceit. God and Devil both are in the details. Hand and eye become a single vessel sailing on a surface towards a destination that’s been mapped out in advance.

JB’s reconstructions, copies and transcriptions are exercises in redemption - rescue operations directed at forms of art and knowledge, culture and critique, ways of being and seeing that have been pushed into the margins, either neutralized and isolated within literary or folk/outsider art traditions or patronized as minor or manual, uneducated or too smart or discounted altogether as extremist or insane. In the process, he reasserts the value and productive force of solitude and solitary accounting at a time when the rights to privacy in and secession from today’s control societies have effectively been abrogated.

For, after all, when we come back from our sojourn in the wilderness and log on - and who can afford not to do either these days? - we are forced willy-nilly to comply with the single overarching diktat such societies insist upon: our voluntary internalization of the organizing protocols, priorities and goals including self development, self discovery, self expression, self improvement that in a globally wired neo-liberal environment, and in an increasingly literal and preemptively coercive way are now routinely programmed into the workaday creative applications that are currently reshaping the psycho-social genome. The scope of that techno-corporate-governmental demand for control now extends through every scale imaginable from the nano, the genetic and molecular across the global and on all the way out beyond the earth’s atmosphere where the satellites are orbiting, and, beyond that, to the inter-planetary level. All those minerals waiting to be mined.

Nonetheless, we would do well to remember in the context of a project devoted to an investigation of the possibilities for self-reliance, radical autonomy, radical difference and radical dissent still remaining or extinguished for the individualist) (American male) monad in 2011, that the scale that really counts from the interested vantage points of the multitude of monitoring agencies that cluster on the internet, and similarly organized social networking technologies, is the individual user: the cookie cut-up on-line user profile that gets updated, tracked, monetized and monitored with each keystroke, download, posting, purchase, Google search or credit card application that we make.

And make no mistake when you gaze up in wonder at the stars while out there in the wilderness on a camping trip or into the clear blue light of the cell phone as you upload a text while sitting in your car stuck in traffic, something beyond human, something post-human, something alien, if you like, that couldn’t care less about your individual welfare, is looking back unblinkingly at you.

Control is not discipline. You do not confine people with a highway. But by making highways, you multiply the means of control. I am not saying this is the only aim of highways, but people can travel infinitely and “freely” without being confined while being perfectly controlled. That is our future.

— Gilles Deleuze[272]


I think it is telling that a man who for so many years seemed to embody in his films and in his person the road-ready restlessness of the generation that witnessed the construction of the US freeway system (begun in 1956) and that grew up associating the expanded spatial scales and accelerated rhythms of a car-centered culture with what it means to be free and in America should choose to park up, dig in and build out from one spot at this moment. It’s not just about slowing down with age or rising gas prices (though Benning’s inner Rain Man will certainly have run the numbers on his budget and the actuarial tables and made the necessary adjustments).

JB’s unpacking of the James Dean persona imposed upon him (especially by the Europeans) but embraced by the artist, none the less, in whatever spirit of ambivalence or irony, has led to some surprising developments in terms of gender performance. A young neighborhood boy, dropping by to pay a visit unannounced a few years back, struck dumb by the spectacle of James sitting on the porch doing needlework received, in lieu of a greeting, the following explanation, delivered without his host looking up from the multi-colored coverlet draped across his lap:

I belong to a quilting motorcycle gang.

Film, the medium with which JB is principally associated, is, of course, just another mode of replication. The discipline of copying by hand and building three-dimensional structures that double up as guest accommodation, spare but serviceable work spaces, meditation cells and remote location viewing platforms, far from representing a departure for JB, are logical extensions of his filmmaking practice over the course of four decades. Beyond the structural and compositional lessons from fabrication and facsimile learned and put to use by JB as a film-maker, the most pressing imperative for Benning remains unchanged: to get himself into the work and out of its way - to build something beautiful to the very best of his ability, to lose himself in the labor process, and then to start again. James Benning is fanatically productive and prolific - 40 films and counting (plus 3 lost shorts), installations, photographs and now 2 cabins and their not un- so much as a-classifiable contents. As the years race by, the projects begin to blur and overlap. The intervals between them get shorter and shorter as the spiral circles in upon its center. There are no vacations. There is no spare time.

When JB is filming, all the labor goes into setting up the shot. Once the shot is framed to his satisfaction and the light is right and the world is settled right around the edges of the frame, he begins counting down - he will check the image one last time inside the viewfinder, and in a single integrated gesture without looking up, push the button, turn on his heel and quickly walk away, shoulders raised, like a mining engineer bracing for a detonation:

... I’m looking for an answer within the mind. Wavelength (Michael Snow, 1967) was completely upsetting and at the same time thrilling, and it questioned narrative and the way light hits the screen. That film was an explosion - and I want some more explosions.

— James Benning[273]

May 18,1996.

Had heated argument with JB at (CalArts) graduation party in Vai Verde re. the Una- bomber Manifesto while enveloped in smoke from student-dug bar-b-q pit. I called Unabomb actions morally indefensible and labeled Manifesto politically naive Luddism. James said it said stuff no one else is saying about technology that really needs saying. He also specially likes the bit about the Left being “over-socialized” i.e. too pc, selfcensoring, timid, sanctimonious, bourgeois, elitist, deferential re. corporate power, identity politics, law, social etiquette etc to go toe to toe with the powers that be /the Right. I conceded that that sounded interesting and admitted I hadn’t actually read the Manifesto but would maybe do so now (though I still think maiming 17 random people and killing 3 just to get published is a bit excessive not to say downright psychotic).

— Author’s diary entry.

The square root of 2 is irrational. It can’t be expressed as the quotient of two whole numbers. It can only be defined between two intervals - a lower and an upper bound - where the interval gets smaller and smaller but can only close at infinity.

One is the unit number: all arithmetic flows from the number 1.

— James Benning in conversation, 7/19/11

One world at a time....[274]

— Thoreau on his death-bed, responding to former minister and family friend, Parker Pilsbury who, observing how close Thoreau stood to “the brink of the dark river,” wondered how the “opposite shore might appear” to him.



”Solitude” extracted from Henry David Thoreau, Walden; or, Life in the Woods, 1854.

”Points 93-120” extracted from FC (Theodore J. Kaczynski), Industrial Society and Its Future, 1995.


Bill Traylor, Untitled (Man in Blue House with Rooster), p. 30 left, p. 31; Traylor, Untitled (Blue Construction with Two Figures and Dog), p. 30 center; Traylor, Untitled (Female Drinker), p. 30 right; Mose Tolliver, Self Portrait, p. 35; Henry Darger, At Ressurrectoation Run. Attacked by Fierce Glandelinians, One of the Vivians Hurls Grenades, p. 41; Martin Ramirez, Untitled (Train tracks with two tunnels), p. 44; William Hawkins, The Blue Boar #2, p. 45; Ted Kaczynski, Untitled, p. 56; Black Hawk, Dreams or Visions of Himself Changed to a Destroyer or Riding a Buffalo Eagle, p. 61; Kaczynski, code numbers, p. 63; Kaczynski, typed motto, p. 65; Joseph E. Yoakum, Idaho Falls Braintree Pass, p. 68; Jesse Howard, Untitled (A Man Has No Right to Defend His Family), p. 71.

All paintings and artifacts by James Benning after the originals.


1. Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau. Walden, Boston: Beacon Press, 2004.

---- . Walden Civil Disobedience. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2003.

Robert D. Richardson Jr. Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. Robert Sullivan. The Thoreau Tou Don’t Know. New York: Harper Perennial, 2009.

2. Bill Traylor

Josef Helfenstein and Roman Kurzmeyer. Deep Blues, Bill Traylor 1854-1949. New Haven and London:

Yale University Press, 1999.

Frank Maresco/Roger Ricco. Bill Traylor, His Art-His Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.

Betty M. Kuyk. African Voices in the African American Heritage. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2003.

Mechal Sobel. Painting a Hidden Life, The Art of Bill Traylor. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009.

Nancy Karlins, “Bill Traylor,” in Raw Vision, no. 15, Summer 1996.

John L. Moore, “Bill Traylor,” in Lee Kogan, Self-Taught Artists of the 20th Century, An American Anthology. New York: Museum of American Folk Art, 1998.

Maude Southwell Wahlman, “Bill Traylor: Mysteries,” in Paul Arnett, William Arnett, eds. Souls Grown Deep, African American Vernacular Art of the South, vol. 1. Atlanta: Tinwood Books, 2000.

3. Mose Tolliver

Anton Haardt. Mose T, A to Z. Montgomery: Saturno Press, 2005.

----- . “Mose Tolliver Goes to Washington,” in Piaw Vision, no. 12, Summer 1995.

----- . “Mose Tolliver: Picture Maker,” in Paul Arnett, William Arnett, eds. Souls Grown Deep.

4. Henry Darger

John M. MacGregor. Henry Darger, In the Realms of the Unreal. New York: Delano Greenidge Editions, 2002.

----- . “Henry Darger: Art by Adoption,” in Raw Vision, no. 13, Winter 1995.

----- . “Further Adventures of the Vivian Girls in Chicago,” in Piaw Vision, no. 39, Summer 2002.

----- . “Thoughts on the Question: Why Darger?” in The Outsider, vol. 2, no. 2, Winter 1998. Kiyoko & Nathan Lerner. Henry Darger’s Room, 851 Webster. Tokyo: Imperial Press, 2008. Ellen Handler Spitz, “Henry Darger,” in Lee Kogan. Self-Taught Artists of the 20th Century.

5. Martin Ramirez

Brooke Davis Anderson. Martin Piamirez. Seattle: Marquand Books, in association with American Folk Art Museum, New York, 2007.

Victor M. Espinosa, “The Myth of Martin Ramirez,” in The Outsider, vol. 12, no. 2, Fall 2007. Ann Temkin, “Martin Ramirez,” in Lee Kogan. Self-Taught Artists of the 20th Century.

Randall Morris, “Martin Ramirez: Master of Los Altos,” in Vernacular Visionaries: International Outsider Art. Annie Carlano, ed. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003.

6. William Hawkins

Frank Maresco/Roger Ricco. William Hawkins. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.

Gary J. Schwindler, “William Hawkins Master Storyteller,” in Piaw Vision, no. 4, Spring 1991. Lyle Rexer, “Outside In,” Raw Vision, no. 45, Winter 2003/04.

John Beardsley, “William Hawkins: Junk Man,” in Annie Carlano, ed. Vernacular Visionaries. Wiliam Arnett, “William Hawkins: Photographic Memory,” in Paul Arnett, William Arnett, eds.

Souls Grown Deep.

7. Henry Aaron

Hank Aaron with Lonnie Wheeler. I Had a Hammer, The Hank Aaron Story. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991.

Howard Bryant. The Last Hero, A Life of Henry Aaron. New York: Pantheon Books, 2010.

8. Arthur Bremer

Arthur Bremer. An Assassins Diary. New York: Harper’s Magazine Press, 1973.

Milwaukee Journal, May 16-18, 1972, August 5-10, 1972, August 27, 1980, July 23, 1982W.

9. Black Hawk

Janet Catherine Berio, ed. Plains Indian Drawings 1865-1935, pages from a visual history.

New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with The American Federation of Arts and The Drawing Center, 1996.

10. Joseph Yoakum

Derrel B. Depasse. Traveling the Rainbow, The Life and Art of Joseph E. Yoakum. Museum of

American Folk Art, New York/University Press of Mississippi, 2001.

Animistic Landscapes: Joseph Yoakum Drawings. Philadelphia: Janet Fleisher Gallery, 1989.

Diane Allison, “Joseph Yoakum at the Beginning: the show at ‘The Whole,”’ in Piaw Vision, no. 16, Fall 1996.

Michael Bonesteel, “The Drawings of Joseph Yoakum,” in Intuit, vol. 4, no. 1, Summer 1995.

Derrel De Passe, “Joseph Yoakum,” in Lee Kogan. Self-Taught Artists of the 20th Century.

11. Jesse Howard

Howard W. Marshall, ed. Missouri Artist Jesse Howard with a Contemplation on Idiosyncratic Art.

Columbia: University of Missouri-Columbia, 1983.

”Jesse ‘Outlaw’ Howard: A Brief Biography,” Intuit, vol 1, no. 1, Spring 1992.

Richard Rhodes. The Inland Ground. New York: Atheneum, 1969.

Michael D. Hall, “Jesse Howard,” in Lee Kogan. Self-Taught Artists of the 20th Century.

12. Theodore J. Kaczynski

Alston Chase. Harvard and the Unabomber, The Education of an American Terrorist. New York/

London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003.

Ted Kaczynski. Technological Slavery, The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski.

Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2010.

Michael Mello. The United States of America Versus Theodore John Kaczynski, Ethics, Power, and the

Invention of the Unabomber. New York: Context Books, 1999.

Chris Waits and Dave Shors. Unabomber, The Secret Life of Ted Kaczynski. Helena Independent Record and Montana Magazine, 1999.

Other sources

Jane Livingston and John Beardsley. Black Folk Art in America 1930-1980. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1980.

Baking in the Sun, Visionary Images from the South. University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette, and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, 1987.

John Turner and Deborah Klochko. Create and Be Recognized, Photography on the Edge. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2004.

Charles Russell, ed. Self-Taught Art: The Culture and Aesthetics of American Vernacular Art. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2001.


written and used by James Benning
to help de-code Kaczynski’s coded journals

10 CLS

20 T$=””:S$=””:TA$=””:TB$=””

30 FORJ=1TO 50:CLS

40 LOCATE 10,35:INPUT”A#= A$:TA$=TA$+A$


60 FORJ=1 TO 50:CLS

70 LOCATE 10,35:INPUT”B#= B$:TB$=TB$+B$


90 FOR J= 1 TO 50

100 A$=MID$(TA$,2*J-1,2)

110 B$=MID$(TB$,2*J-1,2)

120 A=VAL(A$)

130 B=VAL(B$)

140 C=A-B:IF C<0 THEN C=C+100

150 IF C=0 THE W$=”0”:GOTO 1150

160 IF C=1 THE W$=”1”:GOTO 1150

170 IF C=2 THE W$=”2”:GOTO 1150

180 IF C=3 THE W$=”3”:GOTO 1150

190 IF C=4 THE W$=”4”:GOTO 1150

200 IF C=5 THE W$=”5”:GOTO 1150

210 IF C=6 THE W$=”6”:GOTO 1150

220 IF C=7 THE W$=”7”:GOTO 1150

230 IF C=8 THE W$=”8”:GOTO 1150

240 IF C=9 THE W$=”9”:GOTO 1150

250 IF C=10 THE W$=”A”:GOTO 1150

260 IF C=ll THE W$=”B”:GOTO 1150

270 IF C=12 THE W$=”C”:GOTO 1150

280 IF C=13 THE W$=”D”:GOTO 1150

290 IF C=14 THE W$=”E”:GOTO 1150

300 IF C=15 THE W$=”F”:GOTO 1150

310 IF C=16 THE W$=”G”:GOTO 1150

320 IF C=17 THE W$=”H”:GOTO 1150

330 IF C=18 THE W$=”I”:GOTO 1150

340 IF C=19 THE W$=”J”:GOTO 1150

350 IF C=20 THE W$=”K”:GOTO 1150

360 IF C=21 THE W$=”L”:GOTO 1150

370 IF C=22 THE W$=”M”:GOTO 1150

380 IF C=23 THE W$=”N”:GOTO 1150

390 IF C=24 THE W$=”O”:GOTO 1150

400 IF C=25 THE W$=”P”:GOTO 1150

410 IF C=26 THE W$=”Q”:GOTO 1150

420 IF C=27 THE W$=”R”:GOTO 1150

430 IF C=28 THE W$=”S”:GOTO 1150

440 IF C=29 THE W$=”T”:GOTO 1150

450 IF C=30 THE W$=”U”:GOTO 1150

460 IF C=31 THE W$=”V”:GOTO 1150

470 IF C=32 THE W$=”W”:GOTO 1150

480 IF C=33 THE W$=”X”:GOTO 1150

490 IF C=34 THE W$=”Y”:GOTO 1150

500 IF C=35 THE W$=”Z”:GOTO 1150

510 IF C=36 THE W$=”.”:GOTO 1150

520 IF C=37 THE W$=”, ”:GOTO 1150

530 IF C=38 THE W$=”? ”:GOTO 1150

540 IF C=39 THE W$=” (”:GOTO 1150

550 IF C=40 THE W$=”) ”:GOTO 1150

560 IF C=41 THE W$=CHR$(34):GOTO 1150

570 IF C=42 THE W$=” ”:GOTO 1150

580 IF C=43 THE W$=”ABOUT ”:GOTO 1150

590 IF C=44 THE W$=”AN”:GOTO 1150

600 IF C=45 THE W$=”AND”:GOTO 1150

610 IF C=46 THE W$=”AT”:GOTO 1150

620 IF C=47 THE W$=”(BE,AM,IS,ARE)”:GOTO 1150

630 IF C=48 THE W$=”(BE,WAS,WERE)”:GOTO 1150

640 IF C=49 THE W$=”BUT”:GOTO 1150

650 IF C=50 THE W$=”BY”:GOTO 1150

660 IF C=51 THE W$=”CH”:GOTO 1150

670 IF C=52 THE W$=”DE”:GOTO 1150

680 IF C=53 THE W$=”DOWN”:GOTO 1150

690 IF C=54 THE W$=”ED”:GOTO 1150

700 IF C=55 THE W$=”ER”:GOTO 1150

710 IF C=56 THE W$=”FOR”:GOTO 1150

720 IF C=57 THE W$=”FROM”:GOTO 1150

730 IF C=58 THE W$=”(HAVE,HAS)”:GOTO 1150

740 IF C=59 THE W$=”HAVE,HAD”:GOTO 1150

750 IF C=60 THE W$=”HE”:GOTO 1150

760 IF C=61 THE W$=”IN”:GOTO 1150

770 IF C=62 THE W$=”ING”:GOTO 1150

780 IF C=63 THE W$=”ION”:GOTO 1150

790 IF C=64 THE W$=”IT”:GOTO 1150

800 IF C=65 THE W$=”LE”:GOTO 1150

810 IF C=66 THE W$=”LESS”:GOTO 1150

820 IF C=67 THE W$=”LY”:GOTO 1150

830 IF C=68 THE W$=”MAKE”:GOTO 1150

840 IF C=69 THE W$=”MORE”:GOTO 1150

850 IF C=70 THE W$=”MUCH”:GOTO 1150

860 IF C=71 THE W$=”NO”:GOTO 1150

870 IF C=72 THE W$=”OF”:GOTO 1150

880 IF C=73 THE W$=”OFF”:GOTO 1150

890 IF C=74 THE W$=”ON”:GOTO 1150

900 IF C=75 THE W$=”OR”:GOTO 1150

910 IF C=76 THE W$=”OUT”:GOTO 1150

920 IF C=77 THE W$=”OVER”:GOTO 1150

930 IF C=78 THE W$=”PRE”:GOTO 1150

940 IF C=79 THE W$=”RE”:GOTO 1150

950 IF C=80 THE W$=”SH”:GOTO 1150

960 IF C=81 THE W$=”SL”:GOTO 1150

970 IF C=82 THE W$=”SO”:GOTO 1150

980 IF C=83 THE W$=”ST”:GOTO 1150

990 IF C=84 THE W$=”TH”:GOTO 1150

1000 IF C=85 THE W$=”THAT”:GOTO 1150

1010 IF C=86 THE W$=”THE”:GOTO 1150

1020 IF C=87 THE W$=”THERE”:GOTO 1150

1030 IF C=88 THE W$=”THEN”:GOTO 1150

1040 IF C=89 THE W$=”THIS”:GOTO 1150

1050 IF C=90 THE W$=”TO”:GOTO 1150

1060 IF C=91 THE W$=”TR”:GOTO 1150

1070 IF C=92 THE W$=”UN”:GOTO 1150

1080 IF C=93 THE W$=”UNDER”:GOTO 1150

1090 IF C=94 THE W$=”UP”:GOTO 1150

1100 IF C=95 THE W$=”WHAT”:GOTO 1150

1110 IF C=96 THE W$=”WHEN”:GOTO 1150

1120 IF C=97 THE W$=”WHERE”:GOTO 1150

1130 IF C=98 THE W$=”WHO”:GOTO 1150

1140 IF C=99 THE W$=”WILL”

1150 T$=T$+W$:IF LEN(T$)>60 THEN S$=T$:T$^

1160 NEXT

1170 CLS

1200 LOCATE 2,2:PRINT S$

1210 LOCATE 5,2:PRINT T$

Back Matter

This publication was made possible in part by the support of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Arts and the Harpo Foundation.

Edited by Julie Ault

Photography by James Benning

Designed by Martin Beck

Print production by Martin Lee

Reproduction by DawkinsColour, London

Printed and bound in Italy by Conti Tipocolor S.p.a.

ISBN 0-923183-48-5

© 2011 Art Resources Transfer and the authors.

Art Resources Transfer

526 W 26th Street, #614

New York, NY 10001


Art Resources Transfer is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a more egalitarian access to the arts through publishing (A.R.T. Press) and the free distribution of books to public libraries and schools in underserved rural and inner- city communities nationwide (D.U.C. Library Program).

In memory of Fr. James Groppi.

[1] When the American colonies were under British rule there were fewer and less effective legal guarantees of freedom than there were after the American Constitution went into effect, yet there was more personal freedom in preindustrial America, both before and after the War of Independence, than there was after the Industrial Revolution took hold in this country. We quote from Violence in America: Historical and Comparative Perspectives, edited by Hugh Davis Graham and Ted Robert Gurr, chapter 12 by Roger Lane, pages 476-478: The progressive heightening of standards of property, and with it the increasing reliance on official law enforcement [in 19th-century America]... were common to the whole society.... [T]he change in social behavior is so long term and so wide-spread as to suggest a connection with the most fundamental of contemporary social processes; that of industrial urbanization itself.... Massachusetts in 1835 had a population of some 660,940, 81 percent rural, overwhelmingly preindustrial and native born. Its citizens were used to considerable personal freedom. Whether teamsters, farmers or artisans, they were all accustomed to setting their own schedules, and the nature of their work made them physically dependent on each other.... Individual problems, sins or even crimes, were not generally cause for wider social concern.... But the impact of the twin movements to the city and to the factory, both just gathering force in 1835, had a progressive effect on personal behavior throughout the 19th century and into the 20th. The factory demanded regularity of behavior, a life governed by obedience to the rhythms of clock and calendar, the demands of foreman and supervisor. In the city or town, the needs of living in closely packed neighborhoods inhibited many actions previously unobjectionable. Both blue- and white-collar employees in larger establishments were mutually dependent on their fellows; as one man’s work fit into another’s, so one man’s business was no longer his own. The results of the new organization of life and work were apparent by 1900, when some 76 percent of the 2,805,346 inhabitants of Massachusetts were classified as urbanites. Much violent or irregular behavior which had been tolerable in a casual, independent society was no longer acceptable in the more formalized, cooperative atmosphere of the later period.... The move to the cities had, in short, produced a more tractable, more socialized, more civilized’ generation than its predecessors.”

[2] Apologists for the system are fond of citing cases in which elections have been decided by one or two votes, but such cases are rare.

[3] “Today, in technologically advanced lands, men live very similar lives in spite of geographical, religious and political differences. The daily lives of a Christian bank clerk in Chicago, a Buddhist bank clerk in Tokyo, and a Communist bank clerk in Moscow are far more alike than the life any one of them is like that of any single man who lived a thousand years ago. These similarities are the result of a common technology.... L. Sprague de Camp, The Ancient Engineers, Ballantine edition, page 17. The lives of the three bank clerks are not IDENTICAL. Ideology does have SOME effect. But all technological societies, in order to survive, must evolve along APPROXIMATELY the same trajectory.

[4] Found in Kaczynski’s cabin.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Original handwritten text found in Bremer’s car.

[17] Found in Kaczynski’s cabin.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Original handwritten text and typewritten copy found in Kaczynski’s cabin.

[22] Found in Kaczynski’s cabin.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Found in Bremer’s apartment

[37] Found in Kaczynski’s cabin.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Found in Darger’s room.

[51] Favorite book of Kaczynski as a child.

[52] Found in Kaczynski’s cabin.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Used by Kaczynski to conceal a bomb.

[59] Found in Kaczynski’s cabin.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Ibid.

[65] Correspondence with the author, April 16, 2008.

[66] Thoreau quoted in James Benning, Life Is Finite,” http://wexarts.org/wexblog/?p=719, Wexner Center website, 2008.

[67] The New York Times received a letter on April 24, 1995, written under the guise of an anarchist group called FC, promising that if the Times or another national periodical would publish the essay Industrial Society and Its Future, FC would stop sending bombs. If you can get it published according to our requirements we will permanently desist from terrorist activities. It must be published in the New York Times, Time or Newsweek, or in some other widely read, nationally distributed periodical.... After six months from the first appearance of the article or book it must become public property, so that anyone can reproduce or publish it. We must have the right to publish in the New York Times, Time or Newsweek, each year for three years after the appearance of our article or book, three thousand words expanding or clarifying our material or rebutting criticisms of it.” The FBI encouraged publication, hoping someone might recognize the writing. ISAIF ran in the Washington Post on September 19, 1995, in an edition of 850,000 copies. Robert Graysmith, Unabomber: A Desire to Kill (New York: Berkeley Books, 1998), pp. 243-44. For more details see pp. 241-45,270, 288-92.

[68] Conversation with the author, January 25, 2011.

[69] A number of journalists speculated that Kaczynski was inspired by Thoreau and had copied his cabin. He was a back-to-nature nut who had built his shack as an exact replica’ of the cabin Thoreau had constructed on Walden Pond in Massachusetts in 1845.” Alston Chase, Harvard and the Unabomber: The Education of an American Terrorist (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2003), p. 124. Graysmith compares Kaczynski and Thoreau on p. 19 and picks up the thread intermittently.

[70] Correspondence with the author, April 9, 2008.

[71] "[Defense Attorney] Denvir knew the old shack could have enormous impact on the jurors in showing the instability of his client. One prospective juror had just said, ‘That old cabin kind of sticks in my mind. I wondered how anyone could live like that.... I just can’t imagine.’” Graysmith, p. 404.

[72] See Michael Mello, The United States of America Versus Theodore John Kaczynski: Ethics, Power, and the Invention of the Unabomber (New York: Context Books, 1999), pp. 31, 34-35, 56, 58,61-62,68.

[73] Henry David Thoreau, “Slavery in Massachusetts,” delivered at an antislavery rally in Framingham, Massachusetts, July 4, 1854.

[74] Benning primarily works in film. Prior to beginning a film he researches a subject of investigation and its contexts for extended meanings. The knowledge he collects informs the course and imagery of each film.

[75] Conversation, January 25, 2011.

[76] Quoted in The ‘Domestic Air’ of Wilderness: Henry Thoreau and Joe Polis in the Maine Woods,” (author unattributed), The Contemporary West 14, no. 3 (Fall 1997).

[77] Quoted in Robert D. Richardson Jr., Henry David Thoreau: A Life of the Mind, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), p. 349.

[78] Ibid., p. 7.

[79] Quoted in David M. Robinson, Natural Life: Thoreaus Worldly Transcendentalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004), p. 12.

[80] Ibid., p. 15.

[81] Emerson had attended Harvard himself between 1817 (when he was fourteen) and 1821.

[82] Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature,” in Emerson: Essays and Lectures, ed. Joel Porte (New York: Library of America, 1983), p. 14.

[83] Quoted in Richardson, p. 63.

[84] Within weeks of John’s death, the Emersons’ child Waldo died from scarlet fever.

[85] Thoreau’s journal, May 25, 1853: Talked, or tried to talk, to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Lost my time - nay, almost my identity. He, assuming a false opposition where there was no difference of opinion, talked to the wind - told me what I know - and I lost my time trying to imagine myself somebody else to oppose him.”

[86] Quoted in Robinson, p. 164.

[87] Henry David Thoreau, "Resistance to Civil Government,” Aesthetic Papers 1, no. 1 (1849), retrieved from http://thoreau.eserver.org/civil.html.

[88] Ibid.

[89] Ibid.

[90] Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Henry David Thoreau: Appreciation,” eulogy later published as “Thoreau,” Atlantic Monthly 10, no. 58 (1862), pp. 239-49. Retrieved at http://www.theatlantic.com/ideastour/icons/emerson-full.html. Emerson said, “He interrogated every custom, and wished to settle all his practice on an ideal foundation.”

[91] Quoted in Richardson, p. 150.

[92] See Robinson, p. 85; Thoreau quoted in Henry David Thoreau, ed. Robert F. Sayre (New York: The Library of America, 1985), p. 1,044.

[93] He built his cabin on a woodlot owned by Emerson; Emerson, along with Amos Bronson Alcott and William Ellery Channing, helped in the house-raising. “He [Thoreau] had taken a long hike with Ellery Channing through the Berkshires and Catskills in the summer of 1844, and perhaps shared his restlessness with Channing then. The next March, Channing... wrote him with this now famous diagnosis: T see nothing for you in this earth but that field which I once christened ‘Biars’; go out upon that, build yourself a hut, & there begin the grand process of devouring yourself alive. I see no alternative, no other hope for you.’” Robinson, pp. 51-52.

[94] Henry David Thoreau, Walden (Megalodon Entertainment, 2008), p. 39.

[95] Emerson, Thoreau.”

[96] Robinson’s term, p. 77.

[97] Henry David Thoreau, Walden; or, Life in the Woods (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854).

[98] Thoreau, Walden, p. 26.

[99] “Walden is, among other things, a tract of political education, education for membership in the polis.” Stanley Cavell, The Senses of Walden (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972), p. 85.

[100] Quoted in Robinson, p. 166.

[101] Quoted in Wendy McElroy, “Henry Thoreau and ‘Civil Disobedience,’” 2005, http://www. Iewrockwell.com/mcelroy/mcelroy86.html.

[102] The essay “Resistance to Civil Government” derived from a lecture and was subsequently revised further. This essay is generally known as “On Civil Disobedience.” Retrieved from http:// thoreau.eserver.org/civil.html.

[103] Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobedience (New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2003), p. 273.

[104] Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave Written by Himself was published the year Thoreau moved to Walden Pond.

[105] Published in the first and only issue of the Boston journal ^Esthetic Papers in 1849.

[106] Thoreau’s philosophy was always in flux, and his writings reflected that; he incessantly reworked texts as well as retitled them. It is unknown whether Thoreau indicated the term as a title or did his sister Sophia, who, along with several of his friends, including Channing and Emerson, prepared his writings for publication and renamed it posthumously. Or perhaps the publisher renamed it.

[107] Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience.”

[108] Thoreau, Walden, p. 147. Thoreau also recorded such instances in his journal. See Sandra Harbert Petrulionis, “Editorial Savoir Faire: Thoreau Transforms His Journal into ‘Slavery in Massachusetts,’” Resources for American Literary Study 25, no. 2 (1999). Retrieved from http:// thoreau.eserver.org/edsavl.html.

[109] Not the Female Anti-Slavery Society, but the male group.

[110] Emerson, “Thoreau.” “It was a pleasure and a privilege to walk with him. He knew the country like a fox or a bird, and passed through it as freely by paths of his own. He knew every track in the snow or on the ground, and what creature had taken this path before him. One must submit abjectly to such a guide, and the reward was great.”

[111] Richardson, p. 16.

[112] Quoted in Emerson, “Thoreau.” Emerson said, “The axe was always destroying his forest.” ‘Thank God,’ he said, ‘they cannot cut down the clouds!”’

[113] Thoreau, “Slavery in Massachusetts.” See Petrulionis. “His Journal for the spring months of 1854 records the annual break-up of the ice on Walden Pond, a trip to the Boston Society of Natural History Library, and the purchase of his first spyglass. Butbeginning on May 29, the Journal offers much more. Interspersed among canoe trips, forest walks, and sightings of spring flowers and birds are twenty-eight manuscript pages that attest to how deeply Thoreau had become caught up in the social and political fervor caused by Burns’s rendition and the state’s capitulation to the Fugitive Slave Law.... The publication of Walden itself merits but a scant two lines on August 9, 1854. But by this summer, Burns’s arrest had inflamed Thoreau’s rage over slavery to such an extent that it repeatedly spilled over into his most private writing.”

[114] The committee was the chief organization in Boston providing fugitive slaves with material and legal aid.

[115] The lecture was printed in the Anti-Slavery Standard, The Liberator, and the New York Tribune. Sayre, p. 1,048. See Petrulionis for a detailed analysis of the relationship between spoken and written versions of “Slavery in Massachusetts” and the relation between that piece and the nearly simultaneous publication of Walden. Petrulionis traces how Thoreau toned down his journal entries for public address so as not to severely offend the audience in light of Waldens pending publication.

[116] See Petrulionis.

[117] Thoreau, “Slavery in Massachusetts.”

[118] Sayre, p. 1,046.

[119] Robinson, p. 116.

[120] Henry David Thoreau, Life Without Principle,” 1863. Originated as a lecture, “What Shall It Profit,” delivered at Railroad Hall in Providence, Rhode Island, December 6, 1854, edited before Thoreau died, and first published in Atlantic Monthly in 1963 with the new title.

[121] Emerson, Thoreau.”

[122] Quoted in The Heart of Thoreau’s Journals, ed. Odell Shephard (Mineola: Dover, 1961), p. 39.

[123] Thoreau, Life Without Principle.”

[124] Ibid.

[125] Ibid.

[126] See Cavell, especially p. 11.

[127] Thoreau, Life Without Principle.”

[128] “Brown’s trial lawyers had allowed him to maintain his dignity - his personal dignity and the dignity of the beliefs for which he was willing to die.” Mello, pp. 170. Mello draws a contrast between Brown’s and Kaczynski’s court cases, pp. 157-174.

[129] John Brown’s last speech, http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defconl/johnbrown.html.

[130] Emerson, “Thoreau.” “Before the first friendly word had been spoken for Captain John Brown, after the arrest, he sent notices to most houses in Concord, that he would speak in a public hall on the condition and character of John Brown, on Sunday evening, and invited all people to come. The Republican Committee, the Abolitionist Committee, sent him word that it was premature and not advisable. He replied, - T did not send to you for advice, but to announce that I am to speak.’”

[131] “Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, and the Underground Railroad,” retrieved from http://www. calliope.org/thoreau/thurro/thurrol.html.

[132] Henry David Thoreau, 'A Plea for Captain John Brown,” based on a speech first delivered to an audience in Concord, Massachusetts, on October 30, 1859, and later published in 1860. Retrieved at http://thoreau.eserver.org/plea.html.

[133] Ibid.

[134] See Thoreau and Science,” webpage by Robert D. Richardson. Retrieved at http://www. wesleyan.edu/synthesis/Synthesis/Thoreau.html.

[135] Emerson, Thoreau.”

[136] Quoted in Mello, p. 68.

[137] Quoted in J. Alienus Rychalski, Blackfoot Valley Dispatch 19, no. 4 (Wednesday, January 24, 2001), reprinted in Theodore J. Kaczynski, Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a.k.a. “The Unabomber” (Port Townshend, WA: Feral House, 2010), p. 394.

[138] "Mr. Kaczynski described this skipping a grade [fifth] as a pivotal event in his life. He remembers not fitting in with the older children.... He did not describe having any close friends during that period of time.” Dr. Sally Johnson, “Psychological Evaluation of Theodore Kaczynski,” January 16, 1998, ordered by presiding judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. during pretrial.

[139] Chase quotes neighbors who said Kaczynski’s parents were “obsessed with the prospects of Ted’s intellectual stardom,” and “pushed their son relentlessly toward academics.” Chase, p. 163. Kaczynski sees this as exaggeration, while admitting he felt under pressure from them beginning around when he was eleven years old. Theodore J. Kaczynski, “TRUTH Versus LIES,” 1998, unpublished manuscript, Ted Kaczynski papers, Labadie Collection, M Library, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, p. 18. Kaczynski chronologically details his school years and social experiences, and his relationship with his parents vis-a-vis academic performance and social confidence and status (pp. 78-172). “TRUTH Versus LIES” is a carefully detailed, tightly argued refutation of the representations of Kaczynski’s character, personal history, and psychological state as depicted by his mother and brother, former acquaintances, neighbors, classmates, friends, FBI investigators, reporters, and media agencies after his arrest, supported with documentation.

[140] Kaczynski perceived “a gradual increasing amount of hostility I had to face from the other kids. By the time I left high school, I was definitely regarded as a freak by a large segment of the student body.” Quoted in Johnson.

[141] Chase, p. 161.

[142] Quoted from "Letter to M. K.,” October 4, 2003, in Technological Slavery, p. 373.

[143] Quoted in Graysmith, p. 12. See also William Finnegan, Defending the Unabomber,” New Yorker, March 16, 1998, p. 54.

[144] Graysmith, p. 185.

[145] Chase, p. 331; Graysmith, pp. 309, 312.

[146] Johnson.

[147] Quoted in Scott Corey, "On the Unabomber,” Telos, no. 118 (Winter 2000), p. 172.

[148] Chase, also a Harvard graduate, retired prematurely from academia, disenchanted - he was a philosophy professor - and moved to the Montana woods. He points out that Kaczynski’s fervent critiques of psychiatry, medicalization of the mind, and methods of mind control took hold after extended participation in a psychologically manipulative experiment conducted by Harvard professor Dr. Henry Murray. Chase, pp. 205, 362. Kaczynski barely references Dr. Murray or the experiments in his discussion with Dr. Sally Johnson and in TRUTH Versus LIES,” pp. 160-61, 444. He may have written about the situation in his journal, but given that the FBI immediately leaked the journals found in his cabin and no journalist reported this, it seems unlikely he belabored it or that the experiments exerted great impact on him.

[149] Chase, pp. 293, 306.

[150] Kaczynski, Technological Slavery, pp. 376-77.

[151] David sold his share to Ted in 1981. In 1994 and 1995, David lent Ted $3,000, earmarked for medical purposes. In 1995 Ted requested the county assessor reassign half of the property to David, as a way of ensuring his debt would one day be paid. Graysmith, p. 257.

[152] For a couple of years, David lived in a four-foot hole dug in the ground covered with tarps and corrugated metal held in place by rocks. Eventually, he got a larger lot nearby, and in 1986 erected a cabin. He spent winters in Texas until the end of the eighties. David’s Texas home is referred to in many articles and books, and details are confirmed in Kaczynski, TRUTH Versus LIES,” pp. 235, 243, 311.

[153] Dr. Sally Johnson conducted an extensive phone interview with Lincoln librarian Sherri Wood, who recounted some of the details of Kaczynski’s visits to the library, their friendship, and her impressions of Kaczynski’s changing demeanor in the first half of the 1990s. "She [Wood] enjoyed talking with him about his beliefs and indicated he had very strong feelings against government. Although she had the idea that their conversations never changed his opinions, he patiently listened to her ideas and made her feel that her thoughts were worthwhile....She described his ability to identify with her young child, whom she indicated shared some of the kinds of problems that Mr. Kaczynski may have had himself as a child. She noted that he patted her son on the shoulder twice, which is the only physical contact she ever saw him display over the 13 years of their acquaintance.” See Johnson. Kaczynski helped out when the library was remodeled and tutored Wood’s son Danny in math. Chase, p. 126.

[154] Carol Biowars quoted in Graysmith, p. 38.

[155] Graysmith, p. 234.

[156] Graysmith, p. 374. One of Kaczynski’s closest friends for several years was Juan Sanchez Arreola, whom he never met. His brother, David, and Arreola were friends. David had written several stories about Arreola’s experiences in Mexico and forwarded them to Ted, who appreciated the accounts and admired Arreola’s campesino lifestyle. David introduced the two by mail, and beginning in 1988, they wrote letters to each other in Spanish several times a year, frequently expressing the pleasure they felt in their friendship. See Graysmith, p. 101.

[157] Ibid., p. 174.

[158] Ibid., p. 171.

[159] The FBI confiscated Kaczynski’s journals from his cabin. Photocopies provided to his defense team were subsequently donated by Kaczynski to the Labadie Collection at University of Michigan and are sealed at his request. Many of Kaczynski’s personal belongings seized by the FBI, including his original journals, were auctioned by the General Services Administration, on behalf of the U.S. Marshals Service, on June 2, 2011, the proceeds slated for those of his victims who had sought restitution through the court. When he was sentenced in 1998, Kaczynski was ordered to pay his victims $15 million in restitution. The lawsuit was also lodged to block Kaczynski from regaining his belongings and donating papers to UM. In 2006, District Court Judge Garland Burrell, who presided over Kaczynski’s original case, ordered his personal effects to be auctioned in an Internet sale and proceeds go to the Unabomber’s victims. Kaczynski fought the decision in court, but in 2009, an appeals court affirmed the decision. Judge Burrell commissioned the sale in August 2010. The Department of Justice press release states: “We will use the technology that Kaczynski railed against in his various manifestos to sell artifacts of his life.”

[160] Kaczynski journal extract from October 23, 1979, entry quoted in Chris Waits and Dave Shors, Unabomber: The Secret Life of Ted Kaczynski—His 25 Tears in Montana, Independent Record and Montana Magazine, 1999, p. 276. Kaczynski is said to be sensitive to noise.

[161] Excerpts from Kaczynski’s journals were initially made available to reporters and researchers by the FBI, and therefore have been quoted extensively in print.

[162] Quoted in Waits, p. 283.

[163] Even if the wild is a constructed concept, the intense feeling of liberation one can experience in wilderness settings is palpable. I can attest to an encompassing feeling of wonderment from which society simply recedes, accompanied by the thought of "not going back.”

[164] Quoted in article retrieved from http://www.primitivism.com/kaczynski.html. Kaczynski read Thomas Carlyle’s history of the French Revolution around the same time that he decided to make it his mission to retaliate, and felt optimistic about the possibility of substantial social upheaval. He read extensively about the French and Russian revolutions.

[165] Quoted from letter to the New York Times received April 24, 1995. Graysmith, p. 241.

[166] “The people who are pushing all this growth and progress garbage deserve to be severely punished. But our goal is less to punish them than to propagate ideas.” Quoted in Chase, p. 76.

[167] Graysmith, p. 245.

[168] Chase, p. 83.

[169] Corey, p. 175

[170] Letter from FC to Scientific American, 1995, reprinted in Kaczynski, Technological Slavery, pp. 371-72.

[171] Kaczynski kept detailed records of his bomb experiments,” including fabrication notes and drawings and his reactions to their efficacy. Many of the reporters and lawyers and psychiatrists who were granted access to his journals by the FBI have verified Kaczynski’s scientific, clinical remove. Some journal entries demonstrate a dispassionate attitude toward his victims and an absolute lack of remorse over the injuries, maiming, and deaths resulting from his bombs.

[172] For instance, Chase explains that Theodore Roszak’s 1972 book, Where the Wasteland Ends, a copy of which was found in Kaczynski’s cabin, condemns Professor James McConnell’s behavioral research into manipulating and controlling people’s minds. Kaczynski sent McConnell a bomb thirteen years after the book was published. Chase, pp. 59-60. Graysmith, among others, has speculated that Kaczynski’s target choices, fictional return addressees, and other details of the bombings are all symbolic clues to his psychological map.

[173] Chase, p. 138.

[174] See Mello for what appears to be a comprehensive and insightful account of Kaczynski’s court case, including in-depth discussion of the mental-defect plea his defense team put at its center.

[175] Nancy Gibbs el al., Mad Genius: The Odyssey, Pursuit, and Capture of the Unabomber Suspect (New York: Warner Books [Time magazine], 1996), pp. 26, 29, 31.

[176] Ibid., pp. 26, 29, 33, and Chase, pp. 215-16. Kaczynski takes issue with some of the statements made about him to investigators and in the press in TRUTH Versus LIES” and provides many plausible reasons for misunderstandings, mistakes, and misrepresentations. He also discusses media culpability in terms of “irresponsible quoting” and putting forward “emotional language,” “indefinite assertions,” and false impressions in order to portray him as a villain at odds with society’s values, pp. 428-29, 430.

[177] Chase, p. 217.

[178] Gibbs et al., p. 134.

[179] Kaczynski believes their motives for mounting what he considers to be a dishonest campaign were more complicated; that his mother was horrified to have people think that she might have been a bad mother, and that David acted primarily from a desire to get back at Ted for previous emotional injuries he inflicted, and to execute a final break from his big brother, whom he had looked up to since he was a kid. See "TRUTH Versus LIES,” pp. 366-425.

[180] Soon after Kaczynski’s arrest, the government transported the cabin from its original site for storage in the base near Great Falls, Montana.

[181] Quoted in Cynthia Hubert, Court Filing Says Defense Wants to Bring Cabin to Sacramento,” Sacramento Bee, October 24, 1997, in Mello, p. 58.

[182] "As early as June 1997, Kaczynski maintains and the court record does not dispute, he wrote his attorneys, T categorically refuse to use a mental status defense.’” Chase, p. 134.

[183] The paradox, as his case neared trial, could not have been lost on Kaczynski. His own lawyers, talented idealists intent on saving his life, were striving mightily to label him mentally ill. The prosecutors, meanwhile, intent on having him executed, were ready to accept him as the dead-serious dissident and violent anarchist that his writings said he was.” Finnegan, p. 55.

[184] Mello characterized Burrell’s ruling as in flat disregard for the law.” Mello, p. 50.

[185] Finnegan, p. 61.

[186] Mello, p. 79.

[187] Finnegan, p. 60.

[188] Finnegan’s term, p. 54. Mello has asserted that the public perception of Kaczynski is forever fixed. Once a simple label has been applied, it becomes a truth regardless of fact. In the American mind, the complexity that is Theodore Kaczynski has been encapsulated by two words: paranoid schizophrenic.... That his family and his defense team inaccurately portrayed him, to the court and to the world, is a moot point.” Mello, p. 53. The speculative equation made over and over between Kaczynski’s chosen isolation in the Montana woods and his alleged insanity seems to verge on blaming the wilderness itself for Kaczynski’s violent actions.

[189] The use of rational subversive conviction” is not meant to discount the role Kaczynski’s anger and desire for personal revenge played in his actions.

[190] See Paul Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, trans. Kathleen Blarney and David Pellauer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), especially the epilogue Difficult Forgiveness,” pp. 458-506; and “Memory, History, Forgiveness: A Dialogue Between Paul Ricoeur and Sorin Antohi,” March 10, 2003. Accessed from http://www.janushead.org/8-l/Ricoeur.pdf.

[191] The cases, for example, against his cabin being put on display in a museum, and see note 95.

[192] Ricoeur, “Memory, History, Forgiveness”: “This word, consideration,’ is of great importance to me, because there is in the idea of justice left to its own device something that is vindictive, something that is very hard to distinguish from vengeance. Hegel discusses this in a passage from the Philosophy of Right on punishment. He shows that punishment always remains imprisoned within the repetition of vengeance.”

[193] Technological Slavery, pp. 25-26.

[194] Ibid., p. 337.

[195] Thoreau’s and Kaczynski’s terms, respectively.

[196] Cavell, p. 82.

[197] “Emerson then bought the house from Thoreau and resold it to his gardener, Hugh Whelan, who intended to convert it into a cottage for his family. Whelan’s drinking problems, however, prevented him from completing the necessary modifications and the house remained empty until 1849, when it was purchased by James Clark, who then moved it across town to his own farm and used it for grain storage. The roof was removed in 1868 and used as part of a pigsty, and in 1875 the floor and remaining timbers were made into a stable shed. Later, timbers from the collapsed shed were used to patch up the Clark barn.” Retrieved from http://www.library.ucsb.edu/thoreau.

[198] Kaczynski tried to stop this through legal action and failed.

[199] Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, “On the Use and Abuse of History for Life” (orig. pub. 1874), translated by Ian Johnston, revised edition, 2010. Accessed from http://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/nietzsche/history.htm.

[200] Kaczynski quoted in a letter written to Lutz Dammbeck, The Net: The Unabomber, LSD and the Internet, directed by Dammbeck (2005).

[201] Arthur H. Bremer, An Assassins Diary (New York: Harper’s Magazine Press, Harper & Row, 1972). American Dreams contains excerpts.

[202] The baseball cards are Benning’s own.

[203] Benning recalls that his belief in governmental truth was ruptured when he was eighteen and heard the NBC broadcast.

[204] See James Benning, Fifty Years to Life, Texts from Eight Films by James Benning, (Madison, WI: Two Pants Press, 2000) for the complete script of American Dreams. Parts of the descriptions of Benning’s films here were initially published in Julie Ault, "Using the Earth as a Map of Himself: The Personal Conceptualism of James Benning,” in Barbara Pichler and Claudia Slanar, eds., James Benning (Vienna: Osterreicheses Filmmuseum, Synema, 2007).

[205] E-mail to author, July 6, 2011.

[206] Cavell’s term, speaking about Thoreau’s cabin, p. 60.

[207] Emerson, Thoreau.”

[208] For instance he used contemporary single-paned windows instead of smaller multipaned versions of Thoreau’s time, and used store-bought shingles rather than fashioning them from trees as Thoreau had done.

[209] “When I first started making films I was like a folk artist.” Benning in conversation with Lynne Cooke on the occasion of a screening of his films at DiaiBeacon, Beacon, New York, September 21, 2008. Benning had no formal training in filmmaking when he began making films. “What I’m really learning is how different artists think. And about obsession. In order to copy I have to understand how each artist works, and this has helped me to better understand myself. It has informed the way I looked in the last few years.” Benning quoted from lecture, Vienna Film Museum, November 21, 2004.

[210] Benning, Fifty Years to Life, pp. 193, 197, 201, 205-206. Yukuwa is an imaginary Native American woman artist Benning portrays to accompany the image of the Horseshoe Canyon Pictographs in Utah. p. 201.

[211] Similarly to those in “Twelve People” in this volume.

[212] Benning, Fifty Years to Life, pp. 193-96, 198-200, 202-205, 206-209.

[213] Benning continues, “The diagonal of any square is an irrational number, some multiple of the V2. So perfection is impossible. The V2 can never be precisely known - its decimals go on forever....” E-mail to author, May 13, 2011.

[214] Benning quoted in Scott MacDonald, “Exploring the New West: An Interview with James Benning,” Film Quarterly 58, no. 3 (Spring 2005), p. 9.

[215] Benning’s lived experience of Milwaukee is integral to his understanding of place as an aggregate of histories and thus is prerequisite for making such an investigative analysis as Four Corners. His self-inclusion into the otherwise southwest-focused framework demonstrates the degree to which witnessing processes of displacement and disenfranchisement in his original neighborhood, and participating in its transformation, educated him and imprinted his psyche. Milwaukee as matrix is essential to Benning’s way of seeing and has incalculable influence on his work - as story, location, memory, history, imagery, and metaphor.

[216] Benning quoted in D-L Alvarez, “Tortured Landscapes,” Filmmaker: The Magazine of Independent Film, (June 2002).

[217] Conversation, January 25, 2011.

[218] Hawkins signed all his paintings with the place and date of his birth.

[219] The project is a laboratory so I would be surprised if any aspect of it is truly finished.

[220] Benning presentation at San Francisco Cinematheque, February 28, 2010.

[221] They died in poverty as well. Although others have profited substantially from their work.

[222] Conversation, January 25, 2011.

[223] Likewise with the cabin ingredients. For example, after a year or so he replaced one painting after Jesse Howard with another that he felt related more poignantly to the Kaczynski material.

[224] In particular see Chase and Graysmith.

[225] His father read the daily newspaper and fishing and hunting magazines, and his mother read women’s magazines. E-mail to author, May 20, 2011.

[226] Benning combed secondhand-book stores and websites to gather the particular editions he wanted; for instance, those referencing Kaczynski’s titles are from well before his arrest. “It just occurred to me that assembling the library is a lot like collecting baseball cards.” E-mail to author, October 27, 2008.

[227] Kaczynski intermittently visited Aunt Bonnie’s Books in Helena to trade and acquire secondhand books.

[228] E-mail to author, August 4, 2008.

[229] The laboratory also had the onetime function as “film set.” See James Benning, Two Cabins, 2009, 30 min.

[230] Conversation, January 25, 2011.

[231] He didn’t exactly move to the woods; he also lives in Vai Verde to be near CalArts, where he has taught film and math since 1988.

[232] The sign is a recycled license plate. For a while it read, POSTED T. J. Kaczynski KEEP OUT. Benning paints it over periodically.

[233] This is keenly evidenced in his work, especially in durational films such as Sogobi (2001), 13 Lakes (2004), and casting a glance (2007).

[234] Thoreau wrote, “to wake my neighbors up.” Quoted in Cavell, p. 36.

[235] Conversation, January 25, 2011.

[236] The first sentence is from a letter sent to the New York Times (1995); the second sentence is from Industrial Society and its Future (ISAIF), in the section entitled “The Nature of Freedom.” See Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a.k.a. “The Unabomber” (Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2010), p. 64. Other books on or by Kaczynski consulted for this essay include Theodore J. Kaczynski, “TRUTH Versus LIES” (unpublished MS); Alston Chase, Harvard and the Unabomber: The Education of an American Terrorist (New York/London: W.W. Norton & Co., 2003); Michael Mello, The United States of America versus Theodore John Kaczynski. Ethics, Power and the Invention of the Unabomber (New York: Context Books, 1999); Robert Graysmith, Unabomber: A Desire to Kill (New York: Berkley Books, 1998); Chris Waits and Dave Shors, Unabomber: The Secret Life of Ted Kaczynski. His 25 Tears in Montana (Independent Record and Montana Magazine, 1999). The length and breadth of the cell Kaczynski currently occupies are almost identical to those of the hut he lived in for 25 years though it’s much taller with windows high up at an angle that affords no external views.

[237] JB voice-over in Reinhard Wulf (dir) James Benning. Circling the Image (Germany 2003, produced by WDR-Westdeutscher Rundfunk).

[238] Arthur Bremer, An Assassins Diary (New York: Pocket Books, 1973).

[239] Ibid.

[240] Howard Bryant, The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron (New York: Pantheon Books, 2010).

[241] James Benning attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on a baseball scholarship from 1961-1966. He majored in mathematics. From 1971-73 he was enrolled at UW Madison doing a joint MFA in Art and Film.

In the early hours of August 24, 1970 the Sterling Hall Mathematics Building on the Madison campus was blasted by a bomb planted by four young men - Karelton and Dwight Armstrong, David Fine and Leo Burt - in protest at the University’s research connections to the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Robert Fashnacht, a 33 year-old post-doctoral researcher in the field of super conductivity was killed in the blast.

[242] Bryant.

[243] Washington High School Yearbook, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1961.

[244] See Bryant, and James Benning, Off Screen Space/Somewhere Else,” in Barbara Pichler, Claudia Slanar, eds., James Benning (Vienna: Osterreichisches Filmmuseum, Synema, 2007).

[245] Hank Aaron with Lonnie Wheeler, I Had A Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story (Harper Torch, 1992). James’s copy is signed.

[246] John Brown Papers, Chicago Historical Society, Villard, John Brown, p. 354; quoted in Stephen B. Oates, To Purge This Land With Blood: A Biography of John Brown (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1984), p. 352.

[247] Ibid.

[248] Frank Maresca/Roger Ricco, Bill Traylor. His Art - His Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991); also Josef Helfenstein and Roxanne Stanulis, eds., Bill Traylor, William Edmondson and the Modernist Impulse (University of Illinois, 2004).

[249] Anton Haardt, Mose T, Ato Z (Montgomery: Saturno Press, 2005).

[250] See John M. MacGregor, Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal (New York: Delano Greenidge Editions, 2002).

[251] Henry David Thoreau, A Plea for Captain John Brown,” speech delivered in Concord October 30, 1859. Thoreau’s defense of the use of violence at Harper’s Ferry was forthright: It was his peculiar doctrine that a man has a perfect right to interfere by force with the slaveholder, in order to rescue the slave. I agree with him.” Thoreau had heard Brown speak in Concord in March, 1857.

[252] Howard W. Marshall, ed., Missouri Artist Jesse Howard with Contemplation on Idiosyncratic Art, (University of Missouri-Columbia, 1983).

[253] See Chase, p. 72. It’s now deemed more probable that a postal worker used the envelope to write the note on while it was in transit at a sorting office. TK did, however, insert a note into the casing of a bomb he planted at the Cory Hall Mathematics Building at the University of California, Berkeley. The bomb shredded the right hand and seriously wounded the arm of Diogenes Angelakos, Director of UCB’s Electronic Research Laboratory. The note read “Wu- It works! I told you it would- RV,’ ibid., pp. 57-58.

[254] "When I was living in the woods I sort of invented some gods for myself... the first one I invented was Grandfather Rabbit. You know the snowshoe rabbits were my main source of meat during the winters. I had spent a lot of time learning what they do and following their tracks all around before I could get close enough to shoot them. Sometimes you would track a rabbit around and around and then the tracks disappear. You can’t figure out where that rabbit went and lose the trail. I invented a myth for myself, that this was the Grandfather Rabbit, the grandfather who was responsible for the existence of all other rabbits. He was able to disappear, that is why you couldn’t catch him and why you would never see him.... Every time I shot a snowshoe rabbit, I would always say Thank you Grandfather Rabbit.’ After a while I acquired an urge to draw snowshoe rabbits. I sort of got involved with them to the extent that they would occupy a great deal of my thought. I actually did have a wooden object that, among other things, I carved a snowshoe rabbit in. I planned to do a better one, just for the snowshoe rabbits, but I never did get it done. There was another one that I sometimes called the Will o’ the Wisp, or the wings of the morning. That’s when you go out in to the hills in the morning and you just feel drawn to go on and on and on and on, then you are following the wisp. That was another god that I invented for myself.” Theodore Kaczynski, in an interview with Earth First!, Administrative Maximum Facility Prison, Florence, Colorado, USA, June 1999. See also interview with the Blackfoot Valley Dispatch, vol. 19, no. 3, Wed. Jan 17 2001, reprinted in Technological Slavery, p. 21.

[255] Both of the ‘secret’ diary entries deciphered by JB and included in this essay are part of public record and have already been published in Chase, Graysmith and elsewhere. JB’s reverse-engineering exercise in cryptology performed on a copy of TK’s original numerically coded journal took more than a week to complete and is thus consistent with all other aspects of the project.

[256] Charles Manson interviewed in Manson (1973), documentary film, Robert Hendrickson and Laurence Merrick (dirs).

[257] See Mello, especially Chapter Two The Unabomber Non-Trial: Kafka Comes to Town,” pp. 47-135 and Chapter Four John Brown’s Body,” pp. 157-174.

[258] Ted Kaczynski. Technological Slavery, The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski (Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2010).

[259] William Finnegan, Defending the Unabomber,” The New Yorker, March 16, 1998, p. 54. Quoted in Mello, p. 23.

[260] See ibid and for a detailed description of the cabin’s journey from Lincoln to Sacramento see Graysmith, pp. 356-59; 404-06.

[261] Mello, p. 172.

[262] "Wood was the leitmotif of the Unabomber campaign: The bombs came in wooden boxes. The third victim was named Percy Wood and lived in Lake Forest: the tenth lived in Ann Arbor; the fifteenth on Aspen Drive. The sixteenth, Gil Murray, had worked for the California Forestry Association, and the bomb that killed him had been sent from Oakland, California....” The only constant and universal element in the Unabomber case for 16 years,” (William) Monahan wrote (in The New York Press in July, 1995), "is wood. There is always wood involved in a ‘Unabomb’ bomb. That’s how they know it’s the Unabomber. Wood as a substance, in the components and casings and disguising of bombs; and wood as a key semantical element in the choice of targets.” (Monahan’s italics). In Old English... the word wood’ is used in ‘the sense of being out of one’s mind, insane, lunatic’.... In Chaucer, when people go wood, they generally do so because they’ve been tricked.’ Chase”, pp. 42-44. The wicker labyrinth woven by TK would, over time, draw his pursuers down a rabbit hole into an alternate universe worthy of a David Lynch movie. For example when the FBI surmised that the numerical ID he gave the New York Times to authenticate future FC communiques - 553-25-4394 - must be a social security number it turned out to belong to an inmate of the California State Prison. Pelican Bay whose right forearm was tattooed with the words PURE WOOD.

[263] James Kendall Hosmer quoted in John Updike, “A Sage for all Seasons,” The Guardian, June 26, 2004.

[264] Louisa May Alcott in a letter to Emerson. See William Gilman, et al., The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks ofPialph Waldo Emerson, 16 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960), quoted in Wikipedia entry on Henry David Thoreau.

[265] Henry David Thoreau, Walking (1861) (on-line Gutenberg Project).

[266] Ibid.

[267] Quoted in Updike.

[268] For a copiously illustrated, exhaustive, if narrowly Freudian, treatment of the Darger oeuvre see MacGregor, In the Realms of the Unreal. MacGregor’s epic opus mimics in miniature (495 pages) Darger’s obsessive-compulsive style and much of the book was written in the room Darger rented on 851 Webster Street. See also MacGregor’s essay “Henry Darger’s Room: On the Evolution of an Outsider Environment,” in Kiyoko Lerner, Nathan Lerner, David Berglund, Henry Darger’s Room: 851 Webster (Tokyo: Imperial Press, 2008). Whereas in the latter essay, MacGregor briefly touches on the possibility that Darger may have actually murdered children (there were newspaper clippings with photos of missing little girls pinned to one of the walls that were removed after Darger’s departure), he assiduously avoids the question in his book. While acknowledging that “we’ll never know,” Gavin McNett remarks on the studied lack of curiosity surrounding Darger’s potential secret secret life as a serial killer on the part of MacGregor and other Darger aficionados and mentions that Darger who, as a child, had endured sexual abuse and been prone to violence and pyromania while institutionalized returned to Chicago from the mental asylum in which he had spent most of his youth in April, 1911, the month when Elsie Paroubek disappeared. See http://dir.salon.com/story/books/review/2002/07/23/darger/index.html.

[269] Chase, pp. 54-55.

[270] JB bought a copy of Boy with a Battery from a used bookstore in Lower Manhattan in 1980 when he learned from Annette Michelson that it was Hollis Frampton’s favorite book. He bought another copy of the book on ebay a couple years ago expressly for the library.

[271] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia, (London/ New York: The Athlone Press, 1983), p. 37.

[272] Gilles Deleuze, “What is the Creative Act?” in Two Regimes of Madness: Texts and Interviews 1975-1995 (New York: Semiotext(e), 2006), p. 327.

[273] Scott MacDonald, “Exploring the New West: An Interview with James Benning,” Film Quarterly, vol. 58, no. 3, 2005: “I think to make films explode, one has to deny everything that’s been done; and find something else. I’m not talking about technology at all; I’m looking for an answer within the mind.”

[274] Robert D. Richardson Jr., Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), p. 389.

{1} I am grateful to Laurie Monahan for dialogue and editorial advisement.