BRUTHALIA, BARKER AND THE UNABOMBER
It is clear that the strongest single influence on
Bruthalia has been the plays of Howard Barker, and people who are
familiar with Bruthalia continue to associate us with him. Even
with "The Dwarf," members of the audience would comment
on the Barkerian universe. Rather simply put, Barker's thesis is
that it takes a catastrophe to bring out the true nature of the
individual, and that what is revealed is not kindness and sense,
but rather beauty and paradox. These in turn generate desire and
alienation, those two great causes of historical and political catastrophe.
And so the circle is complete and the juggernaut of history winds
on. The UNABOM project is the continuation of Bruthalia's exploration
of the paradoxical in history and politics. If Bruthalia may be
said to have a mission, it is to expose common sense as inadequate,
unworthy, and quite simply an idiot's agenda for understanding the
mysteries of human behavior!
Yes we do want to understand Kaczynski, but not too
well, and certainly not as a psychological specimen. We have to
maintain a distance, and let his ideas and actions speak for themselves
on the stage. We have to respect the modesty of this theoretical
scientist who would have preferred his ideas to remain de-personalised,
unpolluted by the image of the hairy mountain man, and, especially,
not compromised by any insinuation of madness.
Of course this strange personality was not forged
in a vacuum. Not only is he a product of the turbulence of the sixties,
but in his rejection of society for the solitude of nature he reveals
a much earlier influence. Henry David Thoreau, (1817-1862), philosopher,
author, and naturalist was the first American intellectual to make
a sacrament of living alone in a cabin in the woods. He is known
for his book, "Walden," which relates those experiences,
and for his essay on Civil Disobedience. Kaczynski is a classic
Thoreauvian, albeit far more militant, less flexible, and with a
great deal of bitterness bound to his romanticism!
And here, in his desperate response to a mad society
we see the story that needs to be told, the story of a man confronting
his own powerlessness in the face of an anticipated technological
catastrophe. He who was raised and educated to be an integral part
of that catastrophe, is denied participation by the edicts of his
own conscience. Like St. George confronting the dragon, he makes
a desperate choice about whether the end justifies the means, and
embarks on his hero's journey. His journey takes him from the establishment
to the outer fringe, from being an obscure nerd to being a publicity
hound, from being a passive theoretician to being a violent activist.
And eventually his journey takes him back again from the freedom
and isolation of the Montana woods to incarceration in a high security
prison cell scanned by closed circuit television cameras. But in
spite of ending up in prison, TK's life can hardly be seen as a
failure. Very few independent thinkers have been so successful in
bringing their ideas to such a wide audience.
(And he must have had some fun on the way! As a child
he had been a prankster, entertaining the neighbours with his clever
explosions. There is something deliciously absurd in blowing things
up. As if it shouldn't be like that. As if it shouldn't be possible
for things to disappear just like that, POOF, like some pure act
of imagination. The universe becomes vulnerable. Its laws lose their
As he sees it, his maimings and killings were necessary
manipulations of the media and other public institutions. He made
the FBI itself an agent of his propaganda machine. As Thoreau wrote,
"I quietly declare war with the State, after my fashion, though
I will still make use and get advantage of her as I can, as is usual
in such cases." We too are not exempt, for even now he is manipulating
our curiosity to promote his ideas. Even this project is somehow
an extension of his master plan.
And what of his ideas, what of his manifesto?
Has this notorious serial killer bent his evil genius to the task
of polluting our minds with his toxic thought-viruses? In fact he
makes some very important points that contribute to the growing
debate over the dangers of runaway technological progress. The issues
he addresses are receiving more and more exposure in the popular
media. Recent issues of both "The Economist" and "Press"
have devoted their cover stories to the dangers of gene technology.
Major trade wars between the United States and Europe are looming
on the horizon because the World Trade Court does not seem to be
able to resolve their unequal enthusiasms for agricultural technologies.
Kaczynski's catastrophe is slowly becoming ours.