Last night, right before going to bed, I learnt that Aragorn! has died. I have woken up with the same feeling of grief I went to sleep with.
When I first messaged him asking if he thought Little Black Cart would be interested in publishing the book I was writing at that moment, he told me yes. He then took interest in the next book I had written and, while it was a bumpy process, Feral Iconoclasm was published. Aragorn told me that it felt like I wasn’t “complete” and that it needed to be a trilogy to finish the idea. This encouragement was what started the process of writing the 50,008 word manuscript, which his last communication to me was that he’d started reading and that we’d be video chatting soon.
With an ocean and a continent between us, most of our communication was through video chat. Either early in his day or late in mine – twice at 2am for me – I would get a sense of who the guy was, behind this public persona and emails and messages that give very little personality away. I struggle to listen to podcasts, for the same reason I struggle to listen to the radio – the ghost like absence feels too dead for me to really enjoy. If I do as I intend now, and listen through The Brilliant as a means of appreciation for what he brought the anarchist conversation, I don’t know if this struggle will be worse or better. I’ll have to see.
In the last conversation we had through video chat, much of the conversation focused on the idea of anarchists needing time and space for anarchist-stuff, away from other life pursuits, like work and family. Like a lot of our minor differences in thought, I felt appreciation for his. When he spoke about himself he said “I’ve dedicated my life to anarchism”, between different complaints about how boring the anarchist scene has been recently.
Aragorn told me once that he loved the film of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – not the Johnny Depp one! My response was that, when we met face to face, I’d like to watch it with him. This will never happen – though I intend now to watch it at the earliest opportunity.
I imagine those who love him and knew him more intensely than I do are in far more severe states of grief than I am. I imagine those who do not appreciate what he brought in the way of news platforms and digital libraries and more, to the anarchist space, as well as political enemies, will not.
As far as challenging provocative people go, who are prepared to pursue the anarchist conversation to some of its most intensely uncomfortable, honest and radical spaces, he was provoking and a challenge.
My feeling right now is of love and sadness, uncertainty and a cruel sense of absence, which must be explored.
In a radical monist sense of birth and death, creation and destruction, he is not gone. Energy is always in processes of transfer. He is becoming different to who he was, as he dissipates into the nihilistic void, for regrowth to occur. I think of Aragorn as a destructive wildfire, burning away to make space for new life and regrowth, with the cruel thought and conversation he brought – in this way, he is much of what I mean in the term feral iconoclasm. As far as the process he is now in, I’d be lying if I denied that my desires are for more of who I knew him to be.
Aragorn was more than the editor/publisher who made books I wrote objects that people can hold and smell and taste and look at and so on, to me. He was my friend.
I can’t really say more than that!