A Flame for Julian Assange

I’m done talking to myself. Now, I’m talking to you.


Why aren’t you doing something about this madness that I have been writing about for the last several months? Why aren’t you doing anything, other than scrolling through the grease- and crud-coated infinity screen of your phone, a phone that was pieced together by slaves in a private Asian prison? Why aren’t you walking through the doors of your state capitol and ordering those well-dressed women and women, women and men who bought those fine suits with the tax dollars you gave them, to clean up this mess, this mess and this madness, and to do so forthwith?


Whatever you furnish for a miserable excuse, do not sit there and tell me that you’re jaded. Don’t you dare sit there and tell me that the grotesquerie of western society is too oppressive, that it just smothers your imaginative powers.


If you tell me that, then you have to tell me what is the energy, the endurance, the motivation, the inspiration that inspires Julian Assange. At this very moment, as you and I are sitting here in our toasty living rooms, dressed as comfortably as we like, and empowered to go anywhere we wish, our strongest adversary is trapped in a cell, one probably not too much wider than the kitchen table on which I am typing this piece. Or maybe he’s being locked up in something much smaller, some unimaginably narrow compartment, this impossible vessel selected because his captors are trying to terrorize him into . . . into what? Into undoing—the undoing of his work, or of his sanity? Can they destroy his mind? His beautiful, inexorable, and thoroughly human mind?


What is your excuse? What is my excuse? My own tranquility and convenience matter not. I have known for quite some time that my own life is pointless, even detestable, unless it culminates in a boon to the human race. Unless I contribute, it would have been just as well, had I never been. As an involuntary member of this species, it is my obligation to work towards its liberation—so that, one day, no one will lament to say, “I am human.” If this goal is achieved, then my own suffering is irrelevant, no matter how dreadful my suffering is to me, no matter how tragic you believe it to be.


I believe my only value to this end is my ability to string words together and put them on a page. As a human, I am nothing; as a writer, everything. My words are my life; my life is only words. I am not a man, not a lover, not a friend, not a brother, not a son. I am a writer. Therefore, I must be judged on the merit of my writing. All else is immaterial to the material I produce. In consequence, I must continue to write, no matter how unhappy I am, no matter how depressive I am, and certainly no matter how lazy I am. So soothing, the cry of the swinish herd: like Odysseus’s men, stop your ears with wax.


Your day of rest will come when Julian Assange suffers no more. It is your responsibility and mine to determine the character of that day: will it be a day of celebration, or a day of mourning?


Let’s get to work.


-Dack Rouleau

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