Kaczynski read Thoreau, Kissinger saw Hello Dolly!

This pairing of two of Harvard men came to mind when I heard today of Ted Kaczynski’s death at the end of HK100. It’s a quote from Travis Diehl’s X-TRA review of Danh Vo’s 2018 Guggenheim show, Take My Breath Away.

It was part of Diehl’s discussion of an untitled Vo work from 2008 that comprises 14 schmoozy notes on White House stationery from Henry Kissinger to NY Post columnist Leonard Lyons. Most were about getting tickets to shows in New York: “You must be some kind of fiend. I would choose your ballets over contemplation of Cambodia any day—if only I were given the choice. Keep tempting me; one day perhaps I will succumb.”

Typing JULY IV MDCCLXXVI on index cards on Ted Kaczynski’s typewriter, photo: Nils Klinger

Vo, of course, also bought Kaczynski’s typewriter, which he turned into the 2011 work, Theodore Kaczynski’s Smith Corona Portable Typewriter, but only after using it to type invitation cards to his 2011 show at the Fredericianum in Kassel. The index cards, bearing the title of the show and the birthdate of the United States, “JULY, IV, MDCCLXXVI,” were also included in an edition, Seasons Greetings, along with copies of Alston Chase’s book, Harvard and The Unabomber, distribution of which the university successfully thwarted.

Previously, related: Danh Vo: Shop The Look
Walden, or Afterlife of The Wood
Kissinger Kissing Her, Kissing Ass
Untitled (Love, Henry), 2018—
Related: James Benning’s Two Cabins, (2011), edited and with an essay by Julie Ault [pdf, monoskop.org]

[A few unsettling days later UPDATE: That Benning book, and especially Ault’s essay, reminded me of John Semley and Edward Millar’s 2021 essay on “Ted-pilled” Unabomber stans. They’re not only on TikTok. The blithe de-emphasis on Kaczynski’s calculatedly indiscriminate violence and murder in order “ya gotta hand it to him,” by both Benning AND Ault, is gross. Especially in the conflation of Kaczynski’s terrorism and Thoreau’s John Brown-ian anti-abolitionism. I guess we’ll find out how gross it all is if eco-terrorism joins fascist terrorism in our bright civilized future.]