The death of the “Unabomber” in jail
Ted Kaczynski (May 22, 1942 — June 10, 2023) was a counter-culture figure, author of the Unabomber’s manifesto, and a cruel man who maimed and murdered to become famous.
One of the curses of literacy in an age of easy information is that by using basic principles and enough determination, anybody can teach themselves anything.
The consequences of an open culture of letters (way before the Internet made research even easier) were suffered by the three people Ted Kaczynski killed, and the twenty-three others he maimed by using his training as an academic and scientist to teach himself how to make bombs from scratch — housed in beautiful hand-crafted wooden boxes. Kaczynski claimed these were valid actions necessitated in a war against the “industrial-technological society”.
As someone deeply interested in technology and culture, I came to be interested in this malicious man. Why would someone maim and murder in the name of opposing technology? Did his arguments hold any water?
Ironically, given the so-called counter-culture protest against technological civilisation that the bombs were supposed to aid, I came to know about him via Wikipedia. This in turn led to the first book I ordered from what was then a small, innovative book delivery company that we now know as Amazon Inc. It was Alston Chase’s Harvard and the Unabomber — an intellectual biography of Ted Kaczynski. It took almost a month to be delivered, from an independent bookseller in America to London, in that signature cardboard box with the weird lop-sided grin. A previous reader had been using a square stub of card from a tobacco pack as a bookmark. It had the phone number of someone called “Big Jamie” scrawled at the back.
Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber
A series of purposely brutalizing psychological experiments may have confirmed Theodore Kaczynski's still-forming…
So, the strange paradox of Kaczynski’s infamy is that while he mailed bombs to computer scientists, nothing has helped his quest for cheap celebrity more than digital culture. Initially, when Kaczynski started…