Unabomber's writings raise uneasy ethical questions for Stanford scholar
French Professor Jean-Marie Apostolidès finds link between blood and ink in Ted Kaczynski's "Manifesto" – but should we listen to a killer?
For French Professor Jean-Marie Apostolidès, briefly a penpal of the notorious Unabomber and a translator of his writings, these very questions are a scholar's terroir.
He was intrigued by the killer's anti-technology stance, and says that on that score, Theodore Kaczynski may have been right. "Technology transformed humanity into something different than it was before, into a new creation – flesh and technè," he said.
"We are mutants now. What will come out of it nobody knows. It's something unprecedented – and scary," he said. Science fiction, in many cases, is simply "presenting the fears of the metamorphosis."
Apostolidès recently published in book form a French translation of the Unabomber's manifesto, Industrial Society and Its Future. He is currently working on a philosophical and psychological study, Of Ink and Blood: The Writings of Theodore Kaczynski. The author of 1999's L'Affaire Unabomber also has written the recently published The Metamorphoses of Tintin: Or, Tintin for Adults....
Despite some sympathy for Kaczynski's views on industrial society, Apostolidès embraces technology – "because I think there is no other way. It brings positive and negative things. They cannot be separated....
The translation of Kaczynski's 1995 manifesto, which Apostolidès began the day after he read it in the Washington Post, was the first step in a longer journey. The next began with a secret....
"They thought I would be a perfect penpal," he said. Apostolidès was told to keep the correspondence secret even from his family. Thus began a brief, lopsided correspondence screened by Kaczynski's lawyers and the FBI.
The brief correspondence did not go smoothly: "He did not want to talk to me; he wanted to preach. I detest that," he said. "On one side he was scolding me, on the other side complimenting me."...
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