Sunday, February 23, 2014

'All He Needed Was a White Cat to Stroke'


 What a strange and fascinating read was Scottish writer Andrew O'Hagan's exceedingly long story in the current London Review of Books, of how he became ghost writer for Wikileaks founder and all-round creepy weirdo, Julian Assange. Obviously he takes an ax to Assange, but O'Hagan does it well, and with a thousand cuts, none of which miss.

It is, in a sense, a relief to find out that Assange is not the international man of mystery he seems to have accident-ed into, in 2010, but instead, a twat. Yes, a tedious, total twat:
The three of us went to a very pink cafĂ© in the town and ordered sandwiches and cakes. We sat outside, and Julian got distracted by some young girls walking past. ‘Hold on,’ he said, and turned his gaze. ‘No,’ he said. ‘It was fine until I saw the teeth.’ One of the girls was wearing a brace. When Sarah came back and asked what we were talking about, Julian said he’d been admiring some 14-year-old girls, ‘until they came close’. I record this not to show how predatory Julian is – I don’t believe he is any more predatory than hundreds of men I’ve known. It’s not that: I tell it to suggest how self-delighted he can be. He doesn’t at all see how often his self-delight leads him into trouble. He doesn’t understand other people in the slightest and it would be hard to think of a leader who so reliably got everyone wrong, mistaking people’s motivations, their needs, their values, their gifts, their loyalty, and thereby destroys their usefulness to him. He was always very solicitous of me when I was with him, but I could tell he responded much more to the fact that I like a joke than to the notion that I was a professional writer. The latter mattered to him for five seconds when he was trying to find a writer to work with, but it was the time-wasting, authority-baiting side that really kept our relationship alive. He thought I was his creature and he forgot what a writer is, someone with a tendency to write things down and perhaps seek the truth and aim for transparency.