Remembering Aaron Swartz Again

by Henry on February 8, 2013

As Crooked Timber readers will already know, there was a memorial service for Aaron in DC this week. Like “Rick Perlstein”:http://www.thenation.com/blog/172761/aaron-swartzs-dc-memorial-radical-brings-bipartisanship-washington, I wasn’t able to go. Unlike Aaron’s funeral, it was a specifically political event, intended to draw publicity both to Aaron’s causes and the causes of Aaron’s death.

Public deaths are strange. When someone dies, what is left is an imperfect aggregation of different people’s memories, which can never surprise you in the way that the real person could. But when the aggregation of memories is mostly made up of the memories of people who never knew Aaron directly, it is stranger again. The person whom you knew becomes a mythological figure, onto whom others map all sorts of things that may, or may not, have anything to do with the actual individual. It must be much stranger for the people who knew Aaron much better than I did (we were good friends, but not intimate ones).
[click to continue…]